For American Consumers, a Responsibility Revolution

In America, we are recalibrating our sense of what it means to be a citizen, not just through voting or volunteering but also through what we buy. Why the rise of ethical consumerism is profitable for everyone

Illustration by C.J. Burton for TIME

We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals," FDR said in 1937, in the midst of the Great Depression. "We know now that it is bad economics." We learned this all over again after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the shame of subprime mortgages and the brazen Ponzi scheme of Bernie Madoff. But even amid the Great Recession of 2009, people have been trading in their SUVs for Priuses, buying record amounts of fair-trade coffee and investing in socially responsible funds at higher rates than ever before. What we are discovering now, in the most uncertain economy since FDR's...

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