There are a lot of great reasons to shop small. You'll undoubtedly enjoy better customer service. After all, you never have to worry about being transferred 10 times when you're dealing with a small company instead of a large one. You'll feel good about knowing exactly where your money goes too—it actually pays real people to make the goods and provide services instead of the CEO at the top of the corporate ladder.
But, what about sustainability and ethics?
Small businesses are more likely to care about sustainability and ethics than large businesses
Sustainability is a huge buzzword these days. More and more people are learning about the state of our environment, and more and more people are doing what they can to lessen their impact.
Many of these people are starting businesses with the purpose of changing the way retail is done so that it doesn’t harm the environment while providing workers with a fair wage. For example, here at Sundays, we want to create clothing made of sustainable materials, and we want to pay our talented seamstresses fairly. That’s how we came up with the made-to-order business model we use today.
Existing businesses are getting in on the sustainability train too, even while larger companies are slow to act. For example, a small coffee shop can decide to stop offering plastic straws on a whim, while large companies, like Starbucks, may take months or years to implement the same change.
You’re likely to find that sustainability and ethical considerations are weaved into the very fabric of a small business. It is literally the entire reason why the business exists. Large businesses, in contrast, are more likely to promote the products and services themselves, not how they’re sourced or priced, because profits are most important.
But that doesn’t mean all small businesses are sustainable and ethical
Although more small- and medium-sized businesses are unhappy with their progress in these areas than large businesses, that doesn’t mean all small businesses are more sustainable and ethical than large ones.
Businesses still have to answer to investors, and even if they are completely self-funded, a business that doesn't make money isn't going to be around very long.
Unfortunately, the costs that are associated with going green can be time-consuming and expensive. A small business may not have the time or the funds to be as eco-friendly as they would like to be.
The perception of sustainability and ethical products has become more positive in recent years, but to many investors, it still sounds like unnecessary hoops to jump through that will affect the bottom line in a negative way. They may not be willing to invest in green companies or policy changes.
You’ve got some homework to do if sustainability and ethical considerations are important to you. Where you spend your money matters, so it’s important to find companies that care about the same values you do. Just imagine the world we could live in if everyone stopped shopping at stores that only care about profits and chose to spend their money with small businesses that care about the impact they have on the world.
Thank you for highlighting this issue, Edina! It’s made my life easier now that I’ve cut out fast fashion. Easier on my conscious and wallet.