Saturday, 28 January 2012

Social Responsibility

Is an ethical ideology or theory that an entity, be it an organisation or individual, has an obligation to act to benefit society at large. Social responsibility is a duty every individual or organization has to perform so as to maintain a balance between the economy and the ecosystem (Wikipedia)
How many individuals on a daily basis look to 'social responsibility' as a way to live their lives. Do they even know what it means? 

For me 'social responsibility' is all about having a concept that you are not just responsible for your immediate family and friends around you, but for society as a whole which includes the very environment around you. 

When we go out shopping whether it be for food, clothes or a brand new car, it is our responsibility to at least try to check where some of our goods/products are coming from and possibly how they are made. Are we really happy to know that the little black dress, the one that creates masses of compliments from others was actually made by a child labourer who was working relentlessly in poor conditions with little or no pay?

What about that brand new car? 

Whilst we sit and pose with pride for all others to admire us in the front seat, wind blowing through our hair, at any point do we think about how much pollution we leave behind in the atmosphere, or are we so hooked on the lifestyle that we don't give a monkeys? 
Need I mention the length some people in third world countries go to, to put their foods on our plates. Lives have been lost for it

Checked your bank account recently? Some banks are happy to invest in companies that deal with 'arms trading, animal testing' and much more. Fine if you are happy with this. But then, it is clearly hypocrital for you to wave your banner of 'protection against animal cruelty' when you invest all your money in the same banks that agree in testing products on those animals you falsely endevour to save. 

It is exactly the same for the person claiming to be a strict vegetarian, defending animal rights but at the same time are prancing about wearing all things leather. It makes no sense. 
It is the responsible businesses that behave ethically, honestly and in an upfront manner that we should be looking to do business with.

I am not saying that you spend hour upon hour researching about everything you do on a daily basis but if each person would just make it a challenge to check out one product they regularly use, find out where it comes from, how it's made and what possible impact it may be having on our society, the world would be a better place for us to live. There is no doubt that what we do in this world will have a detrimental effect on the ones we leave behind. 

We all want to leave a good inheritance for our children and grandchildren when we no longer exist. What good is leaving money if they can't live in a healthy environment and society?

Where did that lovely diamond come from, the one that's on your ring????


  1. Unfortunately we live in a 'must have it now', throwaway society, in which where our goods come from, just isn't a priority.

    A few years ago, there was a documentary on one of the top high street clothing retailers. It followed as one woman showed the clothes being made by child labour in India and caused an uproar. But did the store lose any customers or any revenue? NO, because it sold 'must have' clothes at affordable prices.

    Also for those living on a budget, the source of where their material and consumer goods comes from, is not going to be of major concern. Affordability is.

    It would be nice to live in a conscientious world whereby we exercised social responsiblity but the reality is that people just don't care enough, or can't afford to care enough.

    Great blog, by the way.

  2. Hi Lily
    Thank you for your comments. What you have said is sad but true. Your contribution is insightful in that, it goes to the heart of the reason why these businesses are so successful even though they do not operate according to ethical principles. Perhaps even more so in this time of recession :(
    Is there any way around this?
    Perhaps if people would only concentrate on one item, that would be of great help. Thank you for your encouraging feedback.

  3. Once again, Rum-Punch drunk is provoking us and pricking our consciences. I like your response as well, Lily, or should I say Jessica :)

    Yes, I suppose it's true. We think of slavery as a thing of the past because it has been made illegal in Western Europe, America etc. but perhaps we have only exported it out of sight and out of mind.

    What else would you call a child under the age of ten working longer hours, with less breaks than adults are allowed to in this country for starvation wages? Before you rush to say it's not so bad, inform yourself on their conditions and ask the question - would I want this for my little son/daughter, niece/nephew etc...

    Our society measures success by how much people consume, the labels they wear etc. but this comes at a human cost. So perhaps we should judge people by their ethics. By how much restraint they show in the face of all this pressure to buy, to have, to own.

    Diogenes of Sinope, the cynic philospher made it a point of honour to move in the opposite direction.
    He owned next to nothing but he did have a bowl and a cup. Then one day he saw someone pouring his lentils directly onto a piece of bread, so the threw away his bowl. The next day he saw a person scopping water up with his hands and he threw away his cup.

    OK, he was at the other extreme of the spectrum, but perhaps he has something to teach us...

    Or how about Jesus?

    "Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
    So why do you worry about clothing?
    Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. "

    Perhaps it's just time to stop playing the industry's game and step away from this conveyor belt of exploitation.

  4. Nice and conversation provoking writings :) It would be great if only we could do this what your're writing....But at least I can't afford to do only ethical choises because products which are ethically operated are unfortunately very expencive especially here in Finland And I have a small salary and a small budget wiht consumer goods...

    1. Thank you so much for your comments Amethyst. Yes, I do agree that these products are much more expensive to buy, especially as we are all in an economic downturn. We all have to budget carefully regardless to how much we earn.

  5. The reality is we are being squeezed from all angles. Social responsibility is all well and good but where and how will you take this action whilst maintaining the life style that you want. If you look at shampoo for example if you go to Asda and try to find one that is socially responsible you might be looking for a while and when you find it the price will be excessive. So you try to find a independent shop and you find they no longer exist or you can't park your car to get in. The way things are now, to be responsible you need to have capital and people are home brand shopping these days. People are not asking the questions no more because the shopping list is not getting any smaller and the wallet is not getting any bigger. It is the price you pay for being poor, having the lower standard of living, less choice, fewer opportunities to support the cause you want to. There is a price to pay for everything. It is terrible if you think about it, but good quality organic, free trade, responsible products are only affordable to the minted.

    1. Marcus. Thanks for your comments.
      I agree in part with what you stated but as for "how will you take this action whilst maintaining the life style that you want", makes me a little curious. Is it the lifestyle you want or the life style you need and can afford?
      I fully understand people in situations of having to budget on a daily basis to get by in life and therefore cannot afford to pay for 'fairtrade' products as an example. But to be fair, to be socially responsible does not always mean you have to have a great amount of capital. For instance, what would it cost to put litter in the bin, or not buy excessive amounts of food whilst shopping, knowing that by the end of the week it will go to waste? I once worked for a company that every evening gave all their sandwiches that didn't sell to the homeless. A majority of companies actually throw products away, this is socially irresponsible.

      If you lived in an area with a choice of banks, what would it cost you to do some research before putting your wages or state benefits into it?
      Do we ever take any advantage when a 'fairtrade' product is on sale, or the price has been reduced even if it is for a short period? or do we carry on mindlessly buying the 'home brand' product.
      Yes, life is very hard for a lot of people right now but social responsibility does not always come with a price tag. Thanks again for your comment.


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