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Eric Price

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Time for a New Globally Responsible Consumer Initiative?

Hundreds of people die in garment factories every year in fires and due to poor working conditions. Wal-Mart and the Gap continue to source clothing from locations that provide unsafe working conditions, long working hours and meager wages. If you are like me, you want to make a difference but have very little opportunity or know what to do. Fair trade and other organizations have made a difference over the past two decades, but I think it's time to move the needle even further! There are many different organizations that are working toward fair labor, human rights, and global ecology:

http://www.rainforest-alliance.org/
http://www.fairtrade.net/
http://www.fairtradeusa.org/
http://onepercentfortheplanet.org/
http://www.sierraclub.org/
http://www.globallabourrights.org/
http://www.wcs.org/

Here's what I'm thinking: a new organization that will combine the efforts of all of these - maybe even collaborate with each one individually - to ensure that all of these goals are being met for the goods or services being produced:

~ Rights for the workers involved: Fair wages, fair treatment and safe working conditions
~ Ecology and environmental waste
~ Consideration for global resources
~ Focus on renewable resources
~ Consideration for local sourcing
~ Reduced resource and waste in shipping and handling

The list could go on. Any other suggestions? This new organization might be setup like the international standards organization http://www.iso.org/iso/home.html Perhaps, there could even be a new ISO standard setup to measure compliance!

A new logo would be created that would reflect certification received for this new standard. The beauty of this concept is that it could be used for any goods or services whether produced locally or abroad.

To work, people would have to promote and pay a little extra.
Maybe such a concept is already out there. If so I haven't found it. All respectful and constructive comments welcome.

How can we make this work?

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    Nov 25 2013: Yes,yes..I see your vision allready in place in my head..I all ready see less packaging..and localmarkets and solar disks and bright garments made safely and my inner enviornment with roofwater recycling vats like my recycling blue box beside my electric bicycle ..but first you need statistics to create consensual pressure?...How about a complaints section added to the ISO website..and if done already..its function has to be ramped up to the status of facebook in order to insert it into mainstream behaviour..therefore you need a spokesperson,cute logo,event.to make us aware. You need also on the ground visibilityperhaps hook into a cell phone campaign or offer a weird GPS opportunity as incitement or fantastic art experiences
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      Nov 27 2013: Fantastic Carolyn, I am glad you are a visionary like me. I can see it too!

      "How about a complaints section added to the ISO website"

      I'm looking at pursing the ISO angle a bit more here. I think this is an organization that we can leverage off of more.

      "You need also on the ground visibilityperhaps hook into a cell phone campaign or offer a weird GPS opportunity as incitement or fantastic art experiences"

      I don't quite understand this, can you elaborate a bit more?
  • Dec 16 2013: In “How to balance inequality” on Youtube, A few calls to a friend in the White House about an inheritance cap to let people redistribute their wealth fairly, realigns man's mission here with his natural, higher purpose.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98NHoNc5AI0
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    Nov 27 2013: gps...apps//how close you are away from a safe" zone...recycling.enviornmentally based consumer activity...like you are in a superimposed video game and youre a good guy...shopping at the store that meet standards...earn goodguy points..have a world score....give away fantastic art...the latest designs on tshirts,bags that illustrate our biosphere in connected terms...this visually sells the concept and holds it mythologically in the brain at many levels...but do not make the art simple...jam it with informatio.....it becomes a teaching tool as well....the art is available allmost at every art school...it is in fact on most young peoples minds...yet capitalism is nervous and sees its own finite end in this line of though ...so few will really commit ...but not everyone is about the dollar...so the information about connected systems is not underground...but not understood well,,,so our attention is easily distracted by more acknowledged subjects
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    Nov 19 2013: A marketing campaign, where the consumer could see the factory workers in a cardboard cut out next to the ethical goods, with the incentive to increase those workers families quality of life, by providing a few cents per shipment directly to the workers pockets would work. It would provide a visual and personal connection, rather than a vague detached concept.
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      Nov 19 2013: That's not a bad idea at all. This coupled with the association of the logo might incent correct behavior when purchasing goods/services.
  • Nov 18 2013: Hi its my view that we ave common demands which the market is largely failing to deliver on. We wish to source ethical produce and direct our demand along certain lines of ethical supply chains. The problem seems to be a lack of demand to drive the growth of ethical suppliers. The tipping point whereby mass numbers of consumers decide upon ethical produce has not been arrived at as yet.
    To arrive at the point whereby ethical consumer behaviour goes viral its my view that a system of ethical consumer reputation building needs to emerge. Eg by consuming ethically we gather reward points. Consumers electronic ethical reputations can possibly be displayed on outgoing email and social media. Ethical consumers will spearhead such an initiative with the concept going mainstream as others join in not wanting to be exposed as irrresponsible and without reputation among their peers. I have written an essay on how ethical consumers and social business can change the world. Let me know your thoughts if you are interested to read it. see www.goviralbaby.com
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      Nov 19 2013: Yes, I am interested. Is the essay contained in the link you supplied?
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        Nov 19 2013: A financial incentive would work for sure, coupons etc. Collecting points in return for purchasing ethical goods would be a good idea.For the consumer there always has to be a "win" in the deal for them.
      • Nov 19 2013: Hi Eric, if you take a look on my site www.goviralbaby.com. I have placed the essay on the loftily titled 'world peace anyone? page. ..scroll down there and have a read.

        The win in the deal for the ethical consumer is a status gain among their ethical peer group. The reputation system is likely to be fairly basic at the outset becoming more elaborate as it evolves and grows. Consumers are not currently being supplied with a sustainable environment with fair opportunity for all. The ultimate win for our children is a fairly run sustainable world.
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    Nov 18 2013: Why the consumer? We all know self regulation never works, only sanctions and potential punishments do. Why not global regulation at the point of origin, or at the nation level, imposing tight controls of imports? I can tell you why, because the average consumer is more concerned to save a few dollars than any higher ideals or any concepts that require extra cost or responsibility.
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      Nov 19 2013: Hi Greg,

      I'd say we don't all know "self regulation never works". it's how I achieve my own personal goals of helping others. A lot of change has happened over the past two decades in consumer awareness. Fair trade has made a lot of progress, as well as any eco-conscious product. We're definately not there yet.

      Why wait around for the governments of the world to change? We can work on import regulation too, but I guess I have more faith in people's willingness to help when given an opportunity. Frankly I have less faith in politicians and the political process than I do in people collectively.
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    Nov 18 2013: [edit: apparently ISO has a standard for social responsibility: ISO 26000, however they state "provides guidance rather than requirements, so it cannot be certified to unlike some other well-known ISO standards." which means that it is ineffective in this context]