The Fair Trade Mark Steering group met for the first time in August 1989 and had soon defined the main objectives of the project: ‘The Fair Trade Mark is an ambition to engage UK consumer power on a significant scale, to give a fairer deal to Third World producers of basic commodities.’1 By the early 1990s the idea of ‘ethical consumerism’ was starting to gain attention among the mainstream media and business commentators as an exciting innovation focused on marketing the social and environmental values of consumer products. Strategically this was an opportunity for Fairtrade to position its approach to trade and development in a way that resonated with the dominant language and belief system of a consumer society.2 The previous decade had seen the emergence of the ‘green consumer’ and the success of market-focused campaigns backed by the environmental movement.3 The green consumer quickly became established as a ‘sticky idea’ that connected with retailers and shoppers — for the Fair Trade movement it seemed that the ‘ethical consumer’ held similar potential. It looked as if this might be the moment when positive consumption, or ‘buycotting’, would finally take centre stage. By voting with their wallets, consumer demand for ‘green’ and ethical products would send a clear signal to the markets that would lead to improvements in conditions for those at the end of the supply chain.
- Fair Trade
- Ethical Consumerism
- Ethical Consumption
- Resale Price Maintenance
- Green Consumer
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© 2015 Matthew Anderson
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Anderson, M. (2015). Ethical Consumerism: ‘Shopping for a Better World’. In: A History of Fair Trade in Contemporary Britain. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137313300_6
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