The importance of ethical consumerism

This October, the event I’m looking forward to the most is when my baby will be born.

Like any new parent, I’ve been a busy consumerist lately, and the latest purchase I was considering was a larger car – a mini four-wheel drive, maybe a VW or Audi because I am a fan of German engineering. This way I figured Rafa the dog (who I always refer to as my first baby), can travel in a separate section to the baby capsule, so my child can arrive at our destination without doggy drool all over her face.

I’d started my research into cars in earnest a few days ago, and came across Volkswagen’s emissions cheating scandal as the news broke in the US.

Bringing a brand new human being into the world has sharpened into focus my aspirations for a healthier planet. So I’ll be steering clear of Volkswagen products, pun intended.

Mums have enormous purchasing power and I intend to use mine responsibly. A new baby is like a clean slate. If you could have a do over, what would you do differently, is how I see it.

I wouldn’t buy clothing that exploits cheap labour, for one. I couldn’t get over the guilt of having my child wear a onesie that was made by a pair of hands not much older than she is.

The challenge is working out which brands to trust. The VW scandal is illustrative of how regulatory frameworks vary across the world, which can cause confusion amongst consumers.

Australia’s emissions reporting requirements are for more lax, compared to the US, so VW is not likely to be in breach of environment-related regulations here. We would have to rely on corporate regulations on misleading or deceptive conduct, to make the car manufacturer accountable for their outrageous actions.

Target has an affordable and decent range of babywear, and on the surface ticks the right boxes, as they issue a sustainability report and have dedicated staff managing sustainability. But reporting standards vary so much that it’s hard to compare Target’s against say Woolies’ or Big W’s. The clothes are so cheap, I can’t help but still wonder about the manufacturing practices at the overseas factories where they’re made.

David Jones is making it their mission to be the leading ethical retailer in Australia, which is commendable. I feel more confident about buying brands that DJs stocks because someone else has, I’d like to think, done the homework for me.

For a new mum, the shopping list can be daunting. There are nappy choices, one must check the chemicals in washing detergents and bathing products, and then there’s the pram, bassinet … the list is endless.

It’s no surprise then that Hollywood celeb and ultimate yummy mummy Jessica Alba has built a billion-dollar business, The Honest Company, whose success feeds on the demand for ethical consumerism.

My journey into parenthood is just starting. I welcome any tips from mums and dads. Particularly on quality baby goods that won’t cost the earth.