New Year has come and gone and everyone is full of New Year Resolutions. But how many of these will fail even before the decorations are away and long before February makes an appearance? Gym memberships that are never taken up, detoxes that are always put off to tomorrow, those glasses of wine still drunk on a school night; you know how it is. I reckon we need something a bit different to kick start 2016 and something that helps not just you but everyone ...
Now I have never studied economics (which may well become blatantly obvious as I write this) but some things do leap out at me. We need to buy things but if we buy too much or the "wrong" things then the planet suffers. The wrong things pollute our world in their production, packaging and transportation. Too many things we buy are used once and thrown away. Too much that of what buy is at best unnecessary, often unsustainable and at worst downright harmful to our future. Furthermore if we just buy from large multinational corporations we risk small local companies being out out of business and it is these local companies that keep our local economies and communities alive.
We really need to reassess what we are buying and where from. And for that I am suggesting that 2016 is the year of shopping more ethically.
"Ethical shopping can be defined as the practice of purchasing products and services produced in a way that minimises social and/or environmental damage, while avoiding products and services deemed to have a negative impact on society or the environment." Source - igd.com
"To achieve sustainable development and a higher quality of life for all people, states should reduce and eliminate unsustainable patterns of production and consumption… Source - Principle 8, The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, 1992
When you look around at the huge problems our world is currently experiencing from severe poverty to global climate change it can be all too easy to think that you, the single person, can do nothing to change this. But:
"Money is a vote which you can use every time you go shopping. By using your spending power wisely you can help in the struggle towards a better world. Source - ethicalconsummer.org
Simply by choosing the way you spend your money you can be part of the change. Shopping ethically means that what-ever you but helps the planet and the people who live there, not simply lining the pockets of shareholders and large corporations. Shop in the following ways and you will be making a difference:
Buy Food and Drink that is:
- In season
- Organic, high welfare and from fair trade producers
- Not highly processed
- What you actually need so you don't waste it
- Grown locally by independent producers - support your local farm shop!
Buy Products that are:
- Recycled, recyclable or refillable
- That will last ... they may initially seem more expensive than other less well made goods but they will last and will work out cheaper in the long run and be less wasteful
- Second hand - try charity shops, FreeCycle, Ebay, Boot Fairs etc
- Produced locally thus reducing the distance something has travelled to get to you.
- Made without polluting the environment
- Have minimal packaging
- Are made from natural materials
Avoid companies which:
- Pay under minimum wage or exploit their workers in any way i.e. banning trade union membership or insisting they work overly long hours without appropriate rests and toilet breaks
- Employ illegal sweat shops
- Use child labour
- Continue to test products on animals
- Overuse local water leaving communities lacking basic supplies
- Actively promote bottle feeding over breast feeding especially in poor regions. Many families cannot afford to buy milk nor do they have access to the clean water needed to make the formula safe for babies to drink.
You can also buy your holiday ethically by supporting independent owners and buying direct from them. That means owners like us! Of course I would love you all to come on your holidays to Eco-Gites of Lenault but if that is not possible I can offer you an alternative. Please do come and join a Facebook Group I help run called Book Your Holiday Direct from the Owner where you can deal direct with owners thus supporting these independent businesses and families. More details about how it works are in this blog post.
What do you think then? Do you think 2016 could be the year you start to shop more ethically? You don't need to completely change everything you buy but if everyone changed a few things then the benefits would start to add up.
I'd love to hear what you can do to shop more ethically and are there other ideas I have I forgotten?