What are your "good," "ethical," or "moral" criteria for spending your money? That's the question someone just posed on Ask Metafilter, and the responses make good reading. While there's definitely some difference of opinion, here are some of the common threads. If we all followed these guidelines, there would be less clutter in our homes and offices.
1. Try to avoid buying stuff at all.
2. Buy second-hand stuff.
3. Buy quality.
I try not to buy crap. I do not want to encourage the market to produce crap. Junk food, inexpensive anything. If you want one, save up and buy a good one.4. Buy locally grown and produced items; by from locally-owned companies.
I do this partly because a local company tends to put more of its money back into the community and be more responsive to local needs. As someone who works for a local company, it's also to avoid being hypocritical when I urge others to do the same.5. Buy directly from artisans.
Every time I go to Starbucks instead of The Mudhouse (owned by my neighbor) or go to Barnes and Noble as opposed to my brother's bookstore I may as well just walk up to them in the street and punch them in the gut for all the respect I would be showing them.
I'd rather spend money on buying something beautiful and unique and have it directly go to the person who created it than getting something mass produced by people who probably aren't getting compensated for it.6. Buy from companies with good social track records; support good labor practices.
7. Buy greener products.
I'm starting to be a little more environment and energy-conscious in my purchases of gadgets, and I generally shun anything that isn't power-efficient.8. Buy things without wasteful packaging.
My main consumer choice of the moment . . . is not to buy anything wrapped in . . . clamshell plastic that I can't get open without cutting myself on the knife required in the process.The responders also agreed that none of us are perfect when it comes to shopping with our values in mind.
I know I'm not perfect, and as a middle-class American I know I've contributed more than my fair share to landfills in my life. But I'm working on it; every bit helps.
[first logo from Portland Buy Local]