Ethical Consumerism

Water Droplet on LeafLay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Mammon.

    —Matthew 6:19-21, 24

Jesus teaches in his Sermon on the Mount that we ought not to worry about what we should wear or what we should eat (Matthew 6:25-34) yet we find ourselves in a society obsessed with how to consume more of everthing our eyes can see. Jesus told a parable of a rich fool who built bigger and bigger barns to hoard his grain and Jesus cleared the Temple  of the money changers exploiting the faithful in Mark 11:15-18, mere days before he was crucified.  Hebrews 13:5 talks about living in a way that is free from the love of money and the Christian church has placed greed as one of the seven most deadliest sins. (Luke 12:13-21).  These are but a few examples of how scripture guides our hearts and minds in regards to the accumulation of wealth and the exploitation of the children of God.   How then do we live into the life of faithful stewardship to which we are called by Christ?   It is a paradox that America is at once one of the world’s most religious countries and at the same time the leader in consumption.   The theological underpinnings of Christianity such as call to community, care of creation, preferential option for the poor and the sacred nature of all life are at odds with self indulgent, individualistic consumer practices.  We are called as practicing Christians to look more closely at the interaction between faith and consumption. We begin first by facing honestly our part in practices of mass consumption and seek prayerfully to engage systems of production and consumption that marginalize and abuse people, the environment and animals.  When we are fully educated about our impact on God’s creation we must explore ways that we can change our habits from destructive into practices of peace and grace.

Ethical consumerism has been defined as the deliberate purchase of products and services that are manufactured and marketed ethically. This may refer to products and/or services created with little to no harm to or exploitation of humans, animals and the environment.  This bibliography attempts to gather sources that address consumer topics from a wide range of perspectives including the Christian response to consumerism.   This annotated bibliography seeks to offer resources that explore consumerism, its impact on individual as well as community lives and offer alternatives to a consumptive life.   The Social Creed from the National Council of Churches includes as fundamental to our lives as Christians:

"In hope, sustained by the Holy Spirit, we pledge to keep and heal the environment, recognizing our responsibility for its health and our interdependence with Creation and one another, by working for: Adoption of simpler lifestyles, resisting the powerful institutions that shape our choices; Access for all to healthy food, clean water and air, with wise and equitable land stewardship; Sustainable use of all resources and promotion of alternative energy sources and equitable global trade that protects local economies, initiatives, cultures and livelihoods."

It is my hope that you will find in this bibliography a wide range of resources to help guide the faithful reader into deeper discernment about how to live into this call to Christian simplicity.


Ethical Consumer Bibiliography