Ethical and sustainable companies are doing something special, something counter-cultural in business. But what if the qualities ethical companies tout were simply the regulated baseline of all of our products? What if consumers could instantly see the negatives of a product, rather than having to research? What if, instead of conscious companies spending time and money to certify ethical and sustainable qualities, only companies that refuse to adhere to them would need a logo? What if, instead of the perverse incentive conventional companies have to get away with chemicals, cost cutting, and exploitation, they were branded with a badge of dishonor? A scarlet letter, if you will. Stick with me here. For example, if your farm uses pesticides that are harmful to bees, you get a dead bee logo slapped on your products.
Companies that use slave or child labor would be emblazoned with the next logo. This one is ridiculous because anyone known to be using slave or child labor should rightly be in jail, but in the perverse world of capitalism this happens all the time without any investigation or ramifications for brands. Why should the lack of forced labor be a special feature? Learn about eliminating slave labor here.
Few companies adhere to the cradle to cradle methodology; few consumers are educated on this subject. However, it should be the responsibility of the company to do a lifecycle assessment and choose appropriate materials. If cradle to cradle methods were required, we could greatly reduce the amount of waste going to landfills. Find Cradle to Cradle products here. Products that aren't even recyclable should be emblazoned with this logo.
There is little incentive for products to be Rainforest Alliance or RSPO certified. If respect for the environment were built into regulations, only the most egregious of corporations would accept this kind of logo on their products. Water waste, carbon emissions, the list goes on for the qualities inherent to most products. Negative incentives would increase adherence to production methods and ethics that we know are better for people and the environment.
The Obama Administration is currently negotiating, in secret, a massive so-called free trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). TPP leaks indicate that this agreement will greatly empower corporations by virtually eliminating consumer, health, safety, labor, privacy, and environmental regulations. Please consider adding your voice to the opposition of the Trans-Pacific Partnership here and here.
Instead of secret partnerships, we need transparency. Instead of conscious consumerism, we need conscious production. Regulation can bring us that. Regulation can put the onus on the corporations that have the power and money and would relieve consumers of the frustration that comes with trying to live a life free of harm.
Wouldn't that be a better world for everyone?