The time has finally come: ethical consumerism is going mainstream! It's exciting to have seen the ethical mindset become a more widely-recognised and accepted concept, and in ways that are natural and low-effort too.
But why is this? I've been writing an ethical lifestyle blog for three years, and it's only now that I find people already know the topics I will cover without needing much explanation. Having recognised this new threshold, I discovered there are five reasons why being green, living mindfully, and eating organic are all more popular than ever...
1. Certification is clearer than ever
Earlier this year, The Fairtrade Foundation reported that "ethical shopping is increasing" with 77% people in the UK now say they care about Fairtrade. It's this awareness that is boosting the ethical industry, and certification now covers everything from beauty to bedding. For all things organic, you have the Soil Association; beauty is encapsulated by the Real Beauty Manifesto; we all know the Leaping Bunny symbolises cruelty-free processes; and even luxury brands can qualify for Positive Luxury's Butterfly Mark.
2. Gen Y leads the way
With studies saying up to "84% believe it is [their] duty to change the world", Gen Y is championing ethical brands like never before. And it's this idealism coupled with factors such as online brand presence meaning more to millenials than established, older brands, giving a new level playing field for ethical businesses to compete upon.
3. The green vote
Continuing with the theme of millennials, there seems to be a refreshed faith in the power of voting. This year it was demonstrated by the record turn out in the snap election, and with studies concluding that "millennial consumers... feel organisations should be responsible", we are voting both with the ethics we hold, and the way we spend our money too.
Lucy Shea, CEO of change agency Futerra said at a recent Fairtrade Conference: "Mindset is fundamental to creating change. Each time you shop it's a vote to change the world the way you want, this, and the fashion industry will play an important role in making it happen. Let's get to work!"
4. In start-ups we trust
There's never been a better time to set up a start-up than today. It's a piece of advice I learnt from Entrepreneur Ben Keene at one of his Escape The City talks, and he's right. Social media is facilitating a huge reach to people who may have never known a green business existed 10 or 20 years ago, and not only are consumers learning of these businesses, they are creating loyal tribes for them. Just take Ethical Hour, a Twitter chat that has grown exponentially in just one year.
And for ethical businesses, having a strong digital presence can be a real accelerator, enabling founders to shout about unique selling points such as transparent sourcing or lightning-fast customer service that make for costly obstacles to larger corporates, some of whom being unable to compete at all.
5. People want to know people
With talk of artificial intelligence (AI) challenging the manual part of pretty much every industry, more than ever value is being placed in the "personal connection". This can be easily seen online with brand ambassadors migrating from celebrities to social media stars, or bloggers being used as advertising channels over above-the-line media. And with ethical businesses, the transparency goes as far as getting to know the people involved, from HQ to the shop floor. The Soap Co. is a brilliant example of this, talking honestly and openly of the people involved in making their ethical soaps.