There are individual buying criteria, where the buyer has a choice about whether to obey their own rules or not, and institutional buying criteria, which presumably are written down as rules of some group entity and where the buyer is not spending their own money, thus, they must obey those rules.
There are also national buying criteria that are required in laws of some countries, that make it illegal for citizens to buy certain things. These are a special case where there are institutional criteria directing what individuals might do.
Typical factors that may become buying criteria for one of the above:
- comprehensive outcome of a commodity's whole service cycle, e.g. coffee planting, picking, roasting, grinding, packaging and shipping, or the more processing intensive cocoa,
- hidden natural capital conversion, e.g. of wood to make charcoal resulting in deforestation
- hidden individual capital conversion, e.g. slave labour, undervalued caring labour, even genocide
- use of diamond or tantallum in status symbols, making ewaste
- employability ratio - labour-intensive vs. capital-intensive (intermediate technology and appropriate technology) processes, UN Human Development Index and purchasing power parity
- other typical safe trade criteria, especially as applied to food
- other typical fair trade criteria, especially as applied to textiles