Effective Altruism and Ethical Consumerism
By David Allis [email protected] March 2019
Effective Altruists (eg Will MacAskill in Doing Good Better) and other critics (eg Jeffrey Sachs) raise some interesting challenges about Ethical Consumerism. These challenges are worth considering and discussing. Both ‘sides’ of this discussion can probably learn from each other, and the words and practices of both sides can potentially be improved by this discussion. This discussion document is based around the questions, challenges and issues raised by Will MacAskill in Doing Good Better, as this is a cohesive and reasoned analysis of the common challenges.
What is Effective Altruism?
Effective Altruism (EA) is a philosophy and social movement that uses evidence and reasoning to determine the most effective ways to benefit others. Effective altruism encourages individuals to consider all causes and actions and to act in the way that brings about the greatest positive impact, based upon their values. It is the broad, evidence-based approach that distinguishes effective altruism from traditional altruism or charity.
One of the strengths of EA is that it encourages robust discussion & debate.
What is Ethical Consumerism?
Ethical Consumerism (EC) is also called ethical consumption, ethical purchasing, moral purchasing, ethical sourcing, ethical shopping or green consumerism. It is a type of consumer activism that is based on the concept of dollar voting. It is practiced through ‘positive buying’ in that ethical products are favoured, or ‘moral boycott’, that is negative purchasing and company-based purchasing.
Will MacAskill provides a simple definition of Ethical Consumerism as “where people spend a little more money on goods that are produced by workers who are treated well, thereby using their purchasing power to, hopefully, make the world a better place.” One aim of EC is to increase the proportion or overall quantity of goods made using more ethical processes. It encourages consumers to transfer their purchasing from less-ethical to more-ethical goods. Sometimes, but not always, it is associated with other concepts including reducing consumerism, buying local etc.
Agreement between Effective Altruism and Ethical Consumerism
Although this article is focussing on the areas where EA is criticising the effectiveness or value of EC, it is firstly worth highlighting their MANY areas of common agreement eg –
- EA & EC are both striving to make the world a better place for the extremely poor
- The extremity of global poverty is horrendous and unimaginable
- The poor are often marginalised and oppressed, either deliberately or unintentionally
- The working conditions for the poor, especially in poor countries, are often terrible.
- Sweatshops are (by definition) unhealthy places to work and are often oppressive. We should feel outrage & horror at the conditions under which sweatshop labourers toil.
- Low wage, labour-intensive manufacturing is often a stepping stone that helps an economy based around cash crops develop into an industrialised, richer society (although EA & EC might disagree as to whether this is the only way, or necessarily a good way, for that change to take place)
- For the very poor (landless labourers, unemployed, under-employed, scavengers etc), sweatshops can be a desirable place to work, as they usually provide increased income and job security compared with the very low income and lack of security usually experienced by the very poor
- We should try to end the extreme poverty that makes sweatshops desirable places to work in the first place.
- More-ethical manufacture facilities should be better than sweatshops – if they aren’t, then they shouldn’t be claiming to be ‘ethical manufacture’
- If we can effectively pass on benefits to the very poor through consumer pressure, then this is a worthwhile thing to do.
- Organic & other sustainable agriculture practices are generally less harmful for the workers and for the environment
- There is increasing consumer demand in richer countries for ethically produced goods, including Fairtrade certified products. Many people are willing to pay more to ensure that farmers in poor countries are paid a fair wage
- The most effective poverty-alleviation interventions are very effective, and can do a lot of good for relatively small cost
- The unintended consequences of attempts to do good should be considered whenever possible
- All altruistic interventions need to be carefully understood and assessed, and there is value in working to make them as effective and non-harmful as possible
- The common hope is that individuals in richer countries will be encouraged and challenged to change their lives in significant ways, which will result in improvements in the world, including poverty alleviation and reduction in suffering
Questions About Ethical Consumerism
In Doing Good Better chapter 8, MacAskill seems to raise 8 questions about Ethical Consumerism. Here is a description of those 8 areas, followed by my ‘BUT’ …. ie my response, questions, challenges, clarifications, thoughts etc
1. Boycotts Cause Harm
Boycotts are one method sometimes used as part of a move towards Ethical Consumerism. MacAskill argues that we need to consider what would have happened otherwise. We assume that boycotts lead to factories going out of business and employees find better employment elsewhere. MacAskill argues that this isn’t true, but that rather the sweatshops provide the good jobs and the alternatives are worse (unemployment, scavenging etc).
– Ethical Consumerism is not based on boycotts – boycotts and the threat of boycotts are only one of many options available to advance the concerns of ethical consumerism
– Boycotts and similar consumer actions have been demonstrated historically to affect major brands (eg Nestle) in tangible ways.
– MacAskills description of boycotts is creating a false binary – the boycott outcome he describes (factories closing & workers become unemployed, leading to worse poverty) is clearly a worse outcome for the workers, but it is only one of many potential outcomes. There are many other potential outcomes that are beneficial eg
– bad factories change their practices and treat workers better
– bad factories close, good factories sell more goods (filling the supply gap) and employ workers that were previously employed in the bad factories
– other bad factories watch what has happened to the bad factories (closing) and change their practices to good, so that the same thing doesn’t happen to them.
– other brands see the danger & effects of the boycotts, and the increasing consumer interest and pressure for ethical practices, and make changes to their own supply chains and factories
– the threat of a boycott leads to good change (without the boycott needing to occur)
Some effective altruists proclaim the value of public pressure from consumers in bringing effective change. For example, a recent Australian campaign put pressure (not a boycott) on MacDonalds to change to ethically sourced animal products. This is touted as a successful campaign. The intention of the activism was to bring positive change, not to force MacDonalds to close. If a campaign like this works to help improve animal living conditions, then it also has the potential to work for human working conditions.
2. Sweatshops Are Needed
MacAskill quotes Jeffrey Sachs, who advocates increased efforts to help those in extreme poverty, saying “My concern is not that there are too many sweatshops, but that there are too few”. This quote is oft repeated online and elsewhere, and unfortunately might be used by some people as a convenient excuse for ignoring how horrible sweatshop conditions are.
Yes – poor countries and poor people need economic growth, and some growth is provided by the manufacture of goods for richer consumers overseas. And yes, for many very poor people, employment in sweatshops is an improvement on their current conditions.
These simplistic statements create a false dichotomy – that the only options are extreme poverty or a slightly better life working in a sweatshop. However, the reality is that sweatshops are not essential – it is plausible for richer consumers to choose to pay more for their goods (ethical consumerism) and for the poor to be employed in better conditions making them.
Why are we opposing a movement (ethical consumerism) that is helping show richer consumers the effects of the choices they are making (eg buying sweatshop goods keeps people in sweatshops) and helping point these richer consumers to a better option (ie products made by the same poor people working in more ethical conditions)? There might be an assumption in the ‘more-sweatshops’ position that richer consumers won’t make this change, but there is little evidence of this, and many surveys show a willingness (verbal at least) by many consumers to pay more for goods that are made ethically.
A parallel is the living conditions in Kolkata – when I lived there for a few years in the 1990s, there were 6 million people living in very poor conditions in the slums (‘improved’ slums had 1 toilet and 1 water supply of unhealthy water for every 100 people – other slums were far worse), and 200,000 people were living on the streets. Obviously the street dwellers’ hope in life was to be able to move into the slums, as this was an improvement in their personal living conditions. However, to extend this to “we need more slums” is misleading – a better version is “we need less slum dwellers and less people living on the streets”.
3. Sweatshops are a natural or effective way for poorer economies to develop
This is implied by MacAskill in his mention of the development of Europe and America (Industrial Revolution) and the four East Asian ‘Tiger economies’ in the twentieth century. These economies developed strongly based on people working in conditions similar to today’s sweatshops.
– The world economy is different now compared to the Industrial Revolution times – global wealth has increased incredibly, plus the international transfer of goods, wealth and products is now much faster and more effective – we now live in a completely different world.
– Ethical standards have changed – much of what was acceptable in the 18th & 19th centuries is no longer accepted by modern societies.
– An appropriate parallel is slavery – there are good arguments that historic slavery led to increased wealth and faster development in the countries that used slave labour. However it is hard to imagine any current economist or effective altruist arguing that “we don’t need less slaves, we need more”.
4. Ethical Consumerism doesn’t work
MacAskill states that ethical consumerism would be a good thing if it could “effectively pass on benefits to the very poor through consumer pressure”. However he uses Fairtrade certification as an example to show that this doesn’t work. Fairtrade certification “is an attempt to give higher pay to workers in poor countries. It’s commonly used for consumables grown in developing countries, such as bananas, chocolate, coffee, sugar and tea.” The Fairtrade license has two benefits – the producers are guaranteed a certain minimum price for the good, and they are also paid a ‘social premium’ on top of the market rate. The social premium is generally used to pay for a democratically chosen community program.
MacAskill raises 3 reasons for suggesting that the extra dollars paid for say Fairtrade coffee versus regular coffee benefit the poor producers “disappointingly little” –
i) It doesn’t help the poorest people in the world. Fairtrade standards are difficult to meet, so the majority of Fairtrade coffee comes from comparatively rich countries. Hence consumers might make a bigger difference by buying non-Fairtrade goods that are produced in the poorest countries, rather than Fairtrade goods produced in richer countries.
ii) It is ineffective. Only a very small proportion of the premium paid for Fairtrade products ends up in the hands of the poor farmers, and middlemen take the rest. Some research indicates that of the Fairtrade premium paid by consumers, only 8-11% ends up in the hands of the poor producers. In contrast, with donations to GiveDirectly, 90% ultimately reaches the poor.
iii) It possibly doesn’t lead to higher wages. The small percentage that reaches the producers doesn’t necessarily translate into higher wages for the farmers. Some studies have found that Fairtrade certification doesn’t improve the lives of agricultural workers, and in some situations the Fairtrade workers have lower wages and worse working conditions than comparable non-Fairtrade workers.
- Fairtrade is only one of many attempts to achieve more ethical production
- Fairtrade has many different ways of working in different places, so examples of it not working in some situations are not sufficient to write-off Fairtrade in general
- Fairtrade is continually developing its policies and practices, through self-analysis and in response to criticism, in an ongoing attempt to be more effective
- The world is a better place because of branding and information like ‘Fairtrade’. The existence of concepts like Fairtrade, child-labour-free, slave-free, free range or cruelty free animals are all helpful as they highlight, to those interested or discerning, the existence of the opposite horrible alternatives. Seeing products promoted as being Fairtrade or child-labour-free obviously suggests that some products are unfair trade or made with child labour
- Even if Fairtrade is less effective than we might hope (say only 10% of premium going to the poor), it is still better than not doing anything (ie continuing to consume non-Fairtrade products).
5. Ethical Offsetting is More Effective.
In discussing Fairtrade products, MacAskill states “ …. there is little altruistic reason to buy Fairtrade products … You’d do considerably more good by buying cheaper goods and donating the money you save to one of the cost effective charities ..” This is effectively ethical offsetting – doing harm in one area (sweatshop labour) and offsetting it in an effective way (donation to cost effective charity).
– Many Effective Altruists are vegans, as they care about animal suffering. However most EAs wouldn’t say the same thing about animal suffering – ie that people should continue eating suffering animals and donate any money saved to more cost effective animal charities. (see Further Discussion – Ethical Offsetting below)
– Unfortunately, it seems that most people who are given the ethical-offset opportunity don’t actually choose to do so.
– There are serious ethical questions about the morality of ever deliberately doing wrong and then offsetting it with donations. If we consider slave labour as an extreme example, it is hard to imagine anyone suggesting that “buy this $10 t-shirt made by slaves and also donate $10 to rescue slaves” is better than “buy this $20 t-shirt not made by slaves”.
– In some situations, ethical offsetting might be beneficial. However, there are usually no easy or obvious offset mechanisms, so consumers don’t actually have an easy method for offsetting. If there were offset mechanisms at point of sale, they might work somewhat eg “buy this sweatshop good and also donate $10 to rescuing slaves”. However even this would still be subject to consumer choice, and they need to opt-in to use this mechanism. While informed altruists might make this choice, many consumers wouldn’t. In contrast, when a store only sells ethically produced goods, possibly with a margin also to help the poor in other ways, then customers aren’t faced with having to choose whether to opt-in to the ethical aspects. In the same way, when a café changes their coffee source from a less-ethical to a more-ethical source of beans, they are making the ethical choice for their customers in advance and are effectively forcing (in a nice way) their customers into an ethical consumer action.
See the Further Discussion section below for more about ethical offsetting.
6. Green Living
Some people attempt to move to a lower-carbon lifestyle as part of green-living and ethical consumerism. MacAskill argues that popular ways to reduce personal greenhouse gas emissions are rather ineffective – eg turning off electrical devices when not in use, turning off lights, not using plastic bags & buying locally produced food all achieve little compared to other changes such as taking less hot baths or cutting out red meat and dairy for one day a week. MacAskill also highlights that one of the most effective ways to reduce your emissions is through offsetting, where you pay for projects that reduce or avoid greenhouse gas emissions elsewhere eg through Cool Earth.
– Actually I agree on this point
– The Ethical Consumerism advocates I know are much more interested in extreme poverty and the working conditions of the poor – these lower-carbon lifestyles aren’t high on their priority list
– There is also a danger, as MacAskill points out (see #8 below) that interventions like this lead to moral licensing. Personally, I have seen this with some well-off people I know – they seem much more interested in having a slightly greener lifestyle than they are in helping the extremely poor. Hence they spend a lot of time and energy working on things like using less plastic bags, and unfortunately don’t seem interested in what they might be able to do to help the extremely poor.
7. Donating to the Most Effective Charities is the Most Effective Form of Intervention
MacAskill says “By donating, you can ensure that your money is spent only on the most effective activities. … In contrast, spending more in order to buy more ‘ethical’ produce is not a very targeted way of doing good.” As discussed in #5, the recommended alternative is to donate to cost effective charities. Effective Altruism advocates are very aware of amazing opportunities for cost effective poverty-focussed interventions.
– This is potentially a false binary, as it seems to posit that ethically minded people have to choose either effective donations OR ethical consumerism. In contrast, it should be possible for many or most western consumers to be BOTH effective donors AND ethical consumers, and if this is plausible, then this both/and is worth promoting.
– Ethical consumerism advocates don’t always, or necessarily, advocate “spending more”. Many ethical consumerism advocates would suggest that consumerism should be reduced, and that is it both plausible and ethical to switch a person’s spending on say clothing from say $1000pa on sweatshop goods to the same $1000pa on ethically sourced goods. Obviously they would get less products for their money, but those products would have been made in a way that is less harmful for the poor and the environment.
– Advocating that people should choose to “donate more” rather than “spend more on ethical goods” is only helpful if people actually do it. It would be worthwhile to test whether consumers would actually make this choice, as until it is properly tested, this alternative remains a concept rather than a common choice.
– If effective donations are promoted instead of ethical consumerism, rather than the both/and option, then there is a danger that consumers won’t be made aware of the unethical processes involved in the production of sweatshop products.
8. Ethical Consumerism Can Lead to Moral Licensing
MacAskill quotes a phenomenon called ‘moral licensing’, which describes how people who perform one good action often compensate by doing fewer good actions in the future. He gives interesting examples of experiments where people who chose a ‘green’ item then cheated more in a test. There are many experiments like these which suggest strongly that many individuals who demonstrate ethical behaviour, or even just say they would do something good, subconsciously gain ‘license’ to act unethically when the chance arises.
MacAskill also acknowledges that the moral licensing effect might not be important, especially if people are being encouraged to make small actions as the first step in towards a larger commitment.
MacAskill uses Fairtrade as an example, saying that if encouraging someone to buy Fairtrade causes that person to devote less time or money to other (more effective) activities, then promoting Fairtrade might on balance be harmful.
– It is unfortunate that MacAskill again uses Fairtrade as the example here, as similarly a one-off or regular small donation to GiveDirectly or Mercy for Animals could equally result in moral licensing that results in less overall good from that person’s life.
– These moral licensing experiments are only experiments. They demonstrate that, in experiments at least, people are often more concerned about looking good or feeling good, rather than actually doing good. The longer-term effects of moral licensing are difficult to measure in reality.
– Moral licensing probably happens anyway, in all sorts of ways, and is very difficult to assess or make adjustment for. It is possible that membership in some groups – eg churches, social action groups, effective altruism groups – also leads to forms of moral licensing.
– Moral licensing appears to be inconsistent in its effects. A 2013 research paper by Hertzman & Stolle suggests that rather than being a blanket effect, moral licensing only holds under certain conditions – it is an inconsistent effect that either a) does not hold, or b) reverses, or c) holds only among certain types of individuals. It is possible that some people are particularly susceptible to moral licensing and will demonstrate the moral licensing effect no matter what they do. Hence it is very difficult to know whether moral licensing has any overall effect on the altruistic endeavours of specific individuals, especially those who aren’t naturally susceptible to it. In fact Hertzman & Stolle find that political consumers (defined as those who act deliberately in buying or avoiding products for political or ethical considerations) do not engage in moral licensing and are unlikely to disengage from their goals simply as a result of past virtuous behaviour.
MacAskill doesn’t take criticisms about carbon offsetting as a reason to abandon the concept of ethical offsetting in general. Rather, he says that these criticisms demonstrate that “we’ve got to do some research in order to find a way of offsetting that’s genuinely effective”. The same could be said of all other aspects of ethical consumerism – rather than abandoning the concept, we need to examine it carefully and seek ways to make it genuinely effective. Unfortunately MacAskill seems to reserve this “find more effective ways” idea for carbon offsetting and animal suffering, but doesn’t extend it to ethical consumerism in general.
The Morality of Doing Harm
MacAskill compares carbon offsetting to two analogies – ‘selling indulgences’ and CheatNeutral. However, he says that these analogies are both flawed, as they are both trying to offset actual harm a person is doing – in these examples it is sin or cheating – however you can’t ‘undo’ the harm you’ve caused others or the sins you’ve committed. In contrast he says that in carbon offsetting, you are not doing any ‘harm’ and arranging that your net carbon issues are reduced – so it is the ‘equivalent’ of never committing adultery in the first place.
This argument seems reasonable – it is showing the difference between do-harm-then-offset-it compared with do-no-harm. Hence, according to MacAskill, the ‘right’ thing to do is to do-no-harm in the first place, as offsetting harm isn’t a satisfactory outcome.
Taking the do-no-harm argument as being good morality, then obviously this analogy can also be extended to sweatshop goods (MacAskill doesn’t extend it this way). It is agreed that sweatshops are terrible places to work. Purchasing sweatshop goods is actually the do-harm-then-offset-it version, as workers must be employed in the sweatshops to produce the goods, and hence there is ‘harm’ (horrible conditions), which is being offset by continuing employment and some slight increased income.
If the counterfactual to buying sweatshop goods (what would happen otherwise) is that the workers would be even more poor as they would be unemployed, then it is reasonable to argue, as MacAskill does, that consumers are actually doing good when buying sweatshop goods, as they are causing less harm. However, if, as I am arguing, the counterfactual to purchasing sweatshop goods is purchasing ethically made goods made by similar poor people, then this is a do-no-harm version that ethical consumerism is promoting, and it is actually supported by MacAskills carbon offsetting arguments.
MacAskill also discusses the inherent cruelty in factory farming of animals and asks whether it is valid to continue eating meat from animals harmed through factory farming, if you offset it in other ways. He suggests that the animal suffering ethical considerations are less like offsetting greenhouse gas emissions and more like committing adultery and offsetting it, which “we all agree it would be immoral to do”. Again, MacAskill is applying the do-harm-then-offset argument to animal cruelty and suggests that the most moral version is the do-no-harm option – ie not eating factory farmed animals. Unfortunately, as discussed above, this do-no-harm ethic is used for factory farmed animals, but not extended to humans working in sweatshops that are the human version of factory farms. Wolfgang Schwarz makes the point – “The case of sweatshops is tricky … Here it is often argued that buying from sweatshops is actually good because those who work in sweatshops are generally better off than they would have been otherwise. Nevertheless, sweatshop conditions are terrible, and it is plausibly wrong to employ people under such conditions. The fact that those people would otherwise have been even worse off doesn’t make it right. If I rescue an animal from a factory farm and torture it a little less in my back yard (a little less than it was tortured before), I shouldn’t expect moral praise. I’m still doing something wrong. So it is wrong to employ people under sweatshop conditions. And so it is also wrong to pay people to do that. ”
Other Arguments for Ethical Consumerism
There are many arguments for Ethical Consumerism. Some of them have been covered in the discussion above, and here are a few more –
– The increasing popularity of Fairtrade and other ethical products shows increasing consumer awareness, interest and demand. Ethical Consumerism helps extend this awareness and demand in healthy ways.
– Educational value – the existence of ‘ethical goods’ automatically implies that some other goods are ‘unethical’. Hence this can prompt consumers to reflect, learn, and possibly adjust their purchasing decisions. Eg if something is promoted as ‘not made by slaves’ or ‘no child labour’, it raises questions about goods that are not making these ethical claims.
– Consumer pressure can encourage other suppliers to look up their supply chain and possibly work to increase how ethical their sources are. Buying products that are clearly marketed as ‘ethical’ sends a message to other suppliers that consumers want change.
– We live in a world strongly influenced by social media, bombarded by spurious advertising, greenwashing and other dubious marketing claims. Ethical consumerism can be an attempt to push-back against this, working towards accuracy, integrity and moral ethics in all areas of supply and sale.
David Allis -about the writer.
Auckland, NZ March 2018
I’m actively involved in Effective Altruism NZ, including giving away copies of MacAskill’s Doing Good Better in New Zealand and overseas, working to form the Effective Altruism NZ Charitable Trust, and helping promote EA concepts and thinking in NZ. I have huge respect for Will MacAskill, although we have never met. In contrast with Will MacAskill’s DPhil in Philosophy & Assoc. Prof of Philosophy status, my degrees in Engineering & Theology, and post-grad Dip in Development Studies pale into insignificance. However, EA is a movement based around intelligent thought and rational discussion, so informed and courteous discussion and debate are widely accepted and considered beneficial. Hopefully this paper will contribute to that discussion.
I’m a businessman, innovator and altruist – happily involved in effective altruism (eg effectivealtruism.nz), ethical consumerism (eg ethicalproducts.org.nz), justice initiatives (eg justtalk.org.nz) and progressive christianity (eg betterworld.nz) and in the unlikely space where these four areas might overlap.
 MacAskill uses provocative titles in Doing Good Better, presumably to engage reader interest. Eg Ch 4 “Why You Shouldn’t Donate To Disaster Relief” is provocative, but doesn’t actually say “Don’t Donate” but rather “… if we want to have an impact, we should donate to less widely publicised disasters rather than the ones that make the news”. p71. Similarly the title for Ch 8 “The Moral Case for Sweatshop Goods” is provocative, but not completely descriptive of the chapter content
 For the record – I’m a big fan of Doing Good Better. Over the past few years, I have initiated and fully funded a project in New Zealand which has purchased and given away about 1000 copies of Doing Good Better. (This might make me the #1 fan & book purchaser!)
 MacAskill p159. Unless otherwise stated, all references to MacAskill relate to Chapter 8 of Doing Good Better
 MacAskill Ch 1
 In this context, ‘we’ is referring to ‘richer’ westerners – ie those who are relatively rich c.f. the extremely poor, and have some control over their purchasing decisions and donations to charitable causes – hence they have the potential to make decisions that will have beneficial effects for the extremely poor
 MacAskill p163
 MacAskill p163
 MacAskill p163
 Eg the cost of say $10 for a t-shirt made in a sweatshop could instead be spent on deworming a child every year for 10 years. Research shows that this annual deworming of children typically leads to a 30% increase in their income for the rest of their lives. One less t-shirt doesn’t make a sweatshop worker unemployed, but it has the potential to impact a child’s life through deworming
 In Australia, Nestlé became the first major chocolate company to source all their cocoa from FairTrade Certified farms. Hershey’s committed to Raise the Bar by going 100% Certified by 2020. These significant actions were achieved through campaigning efforts, and through consumers choosing to change their shopping habits. https://www.stopthetraffik.org/2-the-argument-for-ethical-consumption/
 MacDonalds Australia now claim that animals should be ‘free from cruelty, abuse and neglect’. See https://www.animalsaustralia.org/features/mcdonalds-to-dump-cage-eggs.php and
 This exact phrase gets 600+ hits on google
 P 162
 P 163
 MacAskill p164
 https://www.givewell.org/charities/top-charities and https://www.givingwhatwecan.org/top-charities/ and https://www.thelifeyoucansave.org/Top-Charities are good sources for understanding and finding effective charities.
 p23 https://rubenson.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/TPBW_StolleHertzman.pdf “The most important contribution of this paper is the analysis of the conditioning effect of political consumerism, as example of people who engage in habitual moral behavior. First of all, political consumers act in a more ethical and moral way in all four experimental scenarios tested here compared to non?political consumers. More importantly, political consumers do not engage in moral licensing. That is because when political consumers shop in an ethical store with the kind of products we assume they normally or sometimes buy, they do not feel the license to engage in follow?up immoral or unethical behavior. That is in contrast to non-political consumers, who engaged in moral licensing in two out of three experiments where we expected moral licensing effects (Experiments 2 and 3). This seems to indicate that purchasing ethical products only licenses unethical behavior among those weakly committed to political consumerism. Actual political consumers, in contrast, display much more consistency in their behavior. They are unlikely to disengage from their goals simply as a result of past virtuous behavior. Our findings indicate that there are limits to and conditions of moral licensing.”
 MacAskill’s organisation Giving What We Can has considered 100+ organisations that claim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with donations, and currently recommends Cool Earth as being the best.