The Elusive Model of Conscious Consumption & Its Ethical Compass
By Alberto Adler
Conscious Consumption has been gaining adepts all over the world. It is, of course, a more achievable goal for those who have access to essential commodities and living conditions – such as shelter, food, and hygiene. Or for those who enjoy discretionary income to consume environmentally friendly goods and sustainable products eventually. Or conversely, with those with the ability to replace goods or cease consumption of a particular category.
It’s a personal decision. But, even for those who have these options, it’s not as simple as we think.
Conscious Consumption has to do with many factors.
But here I would like to highlight three that I consider essential for its understanding:
a) Guilt (Culpability)
b) Feeling Remorse and Regret
C) Responsibility and Accountability
Although closely linked, they are all different concepts, which may or may not coexist.
Let’s examine, at least superficially, each of the three categories.
A) Guilt (Culpability):
It’s an objective question, not your opinion or feelings. For example, let’s say you are in the leftmost lane on the road with four lanes, at 120 kilometers per hour, and suddenly you see that you are about to lose the entrance to your destination. The access ramp is on the right, and then you storm through the three lanes that separate you from the ramp entrance.
Cars coming on these lanes are forced to brake suddenly so as not to collide with your vehicle. You pass unscathed by those who braked, but those who came after them didn’t. There is a terrible accident. Even if you go your merry and happy way and sleep peacefully at night, you are still to blame for what just happened.
B) Feeling Remorse and Regret:
Feeling guilty about the accident you caused is a possible consequence, but it doesn’t happen automatically. The degree to which this happens in one’s mind varies according to one’s ability to be empathetic or to put oneself in the other’s shoes. It may be enough to know that you would not wish for yourself to be in the shoes of those you have harmed.
However, understanding the pain of the other and knowing that it was you (and that it’s no use hiding behind justifications) who caused such pain can be painful for you too. That remains the truth even if there are no witnesses, and if you were never held legally responsible. If someone died or had a limb amputated in that accident, it could hurt you for life.
C) Responsibility and Accountability- Awareness of Consequences:
While and a possible feeling of remorse is a situation that happens after actions are already performed, awareness of the consequences of our actions is a situation that precedes the action. At least it should!
Knowing the possible disastrous consequences of an action we are about to perform, and yet moving forward, is one of the concepts that can, and should increase punishment in a court of law.
After all, if you knew the harm you would do and still, your purpose, your responsibility increases. Your actions may not be of negligence but are born from a complete disregard for the collective.
It is the compass where conscious consumption can arise when you know the consequences of your consumption decisions and decide what to do about it. And it is at this point that you take conscious responsibility for your choices.
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Alberto Adler is a Brazilian Scholar, a compulsive writer a visionary, and an Influencer. He is a Pos-Graduation Professor. Adler is also a Business Mentor and a Mastermind Visionary Leadership coach.