Buying with Humanity in Mind

Nicole Clemson
Nicole Clemson

Nicole Clemson works in the Washington DC location of the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School as the Assistant Director of Student Services. Nicole greatly enjoys teaching leadership and providing guidance to Carey’s student leaders active in student organizations and the Student Government Association. Nicole comes to Carey after working at a partnering institution, Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. Nicole graduated with her MBA from Wilkes University and her B.S. in Biology and Philosophy from The University of Scranton.

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At the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, we emphasize teaching business with humanity in mind. That has urged me to start being a consumer who buys goods with humanity in mind. I have no idea if phthalates are good or bad in my face cream, and I can’t identify many of the ethical labels pictured on products. I also don’t have time to research products I intend to buy before going to the store. Lucky for me, there’s now an app that can help.

Using the Good Guide, I simply pull out my phone and scan the bar code of an item in a store. I can instantly view a product rating derived from an assessment of the ingredients and the ethics of its testing, production, and distribution. A score of 0 is bad, and it even shows in a bright red color which screams “STOP AND PUT THAT DOWN!” Ten is the highest score, and it shows in a pleasant green that encourages you to buy. The Good Guide also allows you to filter your search to find products that are Fair Trade USA, PETA Animal Treatment approved, Leaping Bunny Certified, USDA Organic, fragrance free, vegan, and so much more.

In addition to Good Guide, there are other ways to identify a socially responsible company. A B Corps certification, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) rating, or a Carbon Disclosure Program (CDP) grade level all emphasize whether a business is conscious of its impact. The information is out there, but it is up to consumers to make a concerted effort to give their business to companies who act in a safe and socially responsible way.

Like many Americans, I’m willing to open my wallet a little bit wider for a safe and ethically produced product. In their latest study, Nielsen showed that 66% of consumers are willing to pay extra for products and services that come from companies who strive for a positive social and environmental impact.

So what are you waiting for? Set a goal to change your purchasing habits to reflect your values for one month. Put your money where your heart is and try it out! Learn more about the products you’ve been buying, and what you find may surprise you. I know I am even more proud to carry my Eos vanilla bean lip balm that scores a 10!

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