As readers to this blog now, I’ve often written about greentopics, and have strong opinions on integrity and ethics. As a blogger who writes about marketing (Read Green marketing and the art of social entrepreneurship) I found the discovery of ethicalocean.com to be quite inspiring.
What is Ethical Ocean all about?
Ethical Ocean is not your traditional online marketplace. Rather their goal is to increase awareness and the consumption of ethical products (specifically in North America). The concept is simple, transform the market by connecting buyers and sellers through an easily-navigated website that offers every type of ethical product one can imagine. The philosophy at Ethical Ocean is founded on the simple truth that consumer purchasing decisions significantly impact our society (and the world as a whole). The owners of ethicalocean.com believe buyers can consciously choose to craft their buying patterns to have ‘a net positive effect’.
The owners of Ethical Ocean want to educate individuals and help them become more aware of the products they are buying and the impact those purchases may have on others, ourselves and the environment.
Great Concept, but who decides what is “ethical” and what is not?
My first thought upon discovering the site was exactly this, “who decides what products can be sold?”, “what constitutes an ethical product?” Sounds like a possible grey area, and with the crazy world of internet marketing I know there is potential for abuse here. Ethical Ocean responds to this issue by informing us that “YOU DO”. That’s right the average user who will value and interpret ethics differently then others is the one who decides what can and can’t be sold on Ethical Ocean. One such item (which is in my opinion an ethical purchase) is recycled jewelry. They state on their site ‘our intent is not to dictate what is and is not ethical, nor is it to specify which products are more ethical than others; even within our team we have differing opinions on whether products that protect our environment are more important than products that create fair-paying jobs in developing countries’.
Some policies for considering what may or may not be ethical have been taking into consideration and they include,
- information on where the product is made;
- official certifications the product has been awarded;
- additional claims made by the seller on what makes the product ethical;
- a rating system which allows users to evaluate those claims; and
- feedback from members who have purchased the product.
Find them on facebook here, EthicalOcean
Wrapping Up, Would You Shop at Ethical Ocean
What do you think of this concept? With the awareness levels at an all time high for environmental consciousness I suspect an ethical marketplacehas the opportunity to be successful. My primary concern is that marketers will abuse and manipulate the site by attempting to sell products that aren’t ethical at all. I’ll be curious to see how the site owners and moderators do at keeping it legit. Your thoughts?