You might be conscious of the food ingredients that it takes to make a meal, opting for organic over chemical based. Do you think along the same lines when it comes to the ethical production of your product or service?
1. The compounding web effect of ethically spent $
They say that you can vote with your wallet. I believe as business owners we have the opportunity to affect the world around us proactively by establishing relationships with organisations that fit our moral code. I was cleaning out some cobwebs in my house and noticed how sticky the spider's web material really is. Every major paradigm shift happens from a movement of the people. Leaders, rarely these days, are proactive in their approach. The majority take a long time to move forward and the majority equals votes. That being said, as business owners we can all promote a certain way of being by whom we choose to support. It results in a sticky web others can't help but get caught in. This can be from post it notes to recycled printer cartridges (HP are bastards in this, I've heard Canon are a bit better in allowing recycled print cartridges - please write me if I'm wrong). Even citing your supply chain on your website as an affiliate style program is an idea.
2. Stand for something - says Seth Godin
I was watching some folks come out of a fairly hip local café in Brunswick to see that they had straws in their chia looking exotic fruit juice thing. We are quite aware of the throats of the sea life straws end up in and it's really a fallout from the take and go approach to eating. It would be a very cool thing to see a café say no to straws and encourage folks to sit for awhile and finish their drinks or find some other alternative to straws. In Castlemaine they have a little truck that frequents the festivals that clean dishes and cups so that there isn't a huge amount of waste from disposable wares. In the show Portlandia one of the famous scenes is the couple in the restaurant ordering chicken and wanting to see it's resume (how it lives, the space it gets to frequent). It might not be so far fetched to stretch our consciousness that far. A lot of us hope that when we shop in organic stores they are doing this kind of work for us, but really (me included) we may not be so sure.
I was commenting today that I miss New Seasons from Portland, OR. They are an organic store that just seems to have found the formula of good intention vs efficiency. In order to be an effective voice, organisation is necessary. In order to compete against the environmentally disruptive and lack of humanity some people profit from, the well intended need to have their ducks in a row. Being ethical will no doubt cost you more and this cost will be forwarded to the consumer. I know this - a pint of beer sells for $13 in some places. People have money to spend but they want to know what cause they are buying into and for some, buying into your cause means they don't have to think about their own. Win-Win. Transparency, consistent delivery, keeping promises, standing for something. Credibility is added when you can offer clean books to your clean living.
I believe the current climate more than ever is open to changing ideas through what we sell.