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With Life Instyle opening doors in a couple of days, we caught up with Anna Ross from Kester Black and asked her all about the INS and OUTS of ethical purchasing. Discover more about ethical purchasing at her Conversation Series session on Friday August 4 at 11am – Tickets are just $30.

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For the conscious consumer, the term ‘retail therapy’ takes on a whole new meaning. Ethical purchasing certainly comes with a feel-good factor that goes way beyond the initial rush you get when you buy yourself a little something, or two.

Yes, your nails look awesome. But remember to flash them twice because you put in a little extra thought to your purchase and now your nails are also saving the planet.

The power of ethical purchasing is undeniable. If every business on the planet was run ethically, with environmental and social justice as a core business value, imagine what could be accomplished. Our world would be a very different, much better, place.

As a consumer, you have the power to create positive change by supporting ethical business. But how do you know who is truly ethical, and who is simply paying lip service?

Accreditations are the most reliable way to know a business is legitimately ethical and accountable for its claims. Unfortunately, not all accreditations are created equal and not all ethical products are actually ethical.

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Here’s what to look out for.

Why some ethically produced products aren’t actually ethical

Have you heard about turn-key, or private label, products?

Most manufacturers deliver complete products to a business who then sell the product under their own brand label with their own packaging. This is called a turn-key (as in, you just have to turn the key and it works) or private label product. It’s a common practice across many industries, including cosmetics.

A manufacturer stays in business by producing private label products for multiple companies. To remain competitive, and relevant to the supply chain, they don’t generally disclose their suppliers. This is problematic for people who choose to buy ethical products for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, without complete knowledge of the supply chain, it is impossible for a company to truly verify that their product has been produced ethically. Secondly, even if one brand’s product has been ethically produced, it is more than likely the manufacturer is also producing non-ethical products for other companies. This really isn’t the goal of ethical production.

Accreditations: what they really mean

Conscious consumers have to rely on the familiar logo’s of trusted organisations to verify if their purchase is truly ethical. The Cruelty-Free International leaping bunny is a perfect example of this.

But here we run into a couple of issues as well.

The first is; not all accreditations are created equal. Some organisations require a company to complete an in-depth questionnaire and conduct a strict audit to verify that a product is actually as ethical as claimed. Other organisations ask for a simple set of questions to be filled out and that’s it.
You might be surprised who’s who.

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Organisations that audit

Cruelty-Free International
Halal Certification
B Corp

Organisations that don’t
Vegan Society
Australian Made
Choose Cruelty-Free (they do conduct an in-depth questionnaire)

The second issue is that there are a lot of imposters out there.

Have you ever felt comfortable in your purchase because you’ve spotted the Cruelty-Free International leaping bunny on the packaging?

Take a closer look. A lot of companies create a similar-but-not-the-same image to claim cruelty-free, but aren’t actually accredited. It’s purposefully misleading and there’s a high chance that you’ve bought a product that you’ve thought was accredited but actually isn’t.

Tricky. And, frankly, just flat out frustrating.

Our Tip

To get what you’re paying for always look for the licensed logo. That way you know it’s fully accredited and you can go home confident in your ethical purchase.

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