Center for Fair & Alternative Trade

Colorado State University

“From Conscious Consumerism to Virtuous Communities”

Presented by Doug Murray, CFAT Co-director and Professor of Sociology, CSU

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Douglas Murray, Co-Director of CFAT and Professor of Sociology at CSU, and Emily Thorn, Graduate Research Assistant, presented “From Conscious Consumerism to Virtuous Communities” to CFAT faculty, students and associates on November 10, 2009. The goal of the seminar was to provide our team with an opportunity to discuss and debate CFAT’s newest initiative, the Conscious Consumer Trust (CCT).

The CCT is a community development initiative launched by CFAT in collaboration with UniverCity, the Downtown Development Authority, the Northern Colorado Business Incubator, Mennonite Mutual Aid and others, to strengthen business and public participation in the rapidly expanding Conscious Consumer Economy.  

The Conscious Consumer Economy is a rapidly growing sector of consumers around the world that purchase and consume with a desire to improve environmental and social conditions. This sector of consumers, while perhaps a minority in numbers, has long been recognized as a market leader in shaping business practices, local and national government policies and more. Entrepreneurs around the world are responding, from small farmers and artisans to transnational corporations, fueling the growth of Conscious Consumerism on a global scale.

The CCT will pursue a variety of research projects intended to inform and advance our understanding of the links between conscious consumers and entrepreneurs. Previous research on conscious consumerism, including the inventory of retailers engaging conscious consumers (CFAT, 2006), the statewide survey of conscious consumer attitudes and behavior (Long, 2009), focus groups in the Fort Collins community on conscious consumer preferences (Long, 2009), and a study of 64 certification systems appropriate to local community interests (Raynolds, et al., 2009), will continue to be adapted to meet the needs of Fort Collins business interests, consumers and the public. In addition, the results of a wide range of studies in other parts of the United States, Europe and elsewhere will be synthesized into additional resources for the local community.

 The CCT will begin by investigating the current divide between the Locally Sustainable and the Globally Fair movements. Both movements are fragmented by competing visions of their goals and purposes, making an integration of their approaches difficult. We believe, however, that both movements share underlying values that provide a foundation for a common agenda.