In the first post of this series, we looked at the most common counter-argument to ethical living – that it’s too expensive. The more aware you become of Certified products, the more you realise that Certification is not restricted to luxury items. There are, however, further cries of protest that can be made… so let’s have a look at another argument that people often cite when confronted with ethical consumption: ‘it doesn’t make a difference’.
The short response to this is: it does. Unsurprisingly, this approach doesn’t lead to a balanced, constructive exchange of views, so let’s look at the long response.
Certification provides an independent seal of approval, which says something like: “Conditions on this farm are better than on other farms. There is no trafficked, forced or child labour here. Farmers have a voice; the means to support their families; hope for the future.”
The nagging feeling might still remain, though, that you as an individual cannot make a difference, so why bother? Your personal shopping habits are a mere drop in the ocean compared to the thousands, millions of people who don’t buy Certified products, right?
Wrong. Buying Certified products sends a message to corporations that customers want change. We live in an exciting time – a time when consumers can choose to influence the decisions of companies. This would have been unthinkable a decade ago, and laughable when the Fairtrade Foundation was set up in 1992.
In Australia, Nestlé have become the first major chocolate company to source all their cocoa from Certified farms. Hershey’s have 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.
Global corporations know that the consumer is a key stakeholder in their products. If she is not happy, they have no choice but to do something different. Last December, after campaigning from Greenpeace, Waitrose bowed to public pressure and halted plans to roll out a partnership with Shell due to their plans to drill for oil in the Arctic.
So you, as a consumer, have the opportunity to be part of this change. However insignificant you think that part might play, by making that choice you are making a statement. And it’s a powerful statement.
If that doesn’t satisfy you, we at STOP THE TRAFFIK recommend a more active role as ethical consumer – “Buy Certified chocolate and campaign for change”. Tell your friends, your families, your colleagues. Write to your local supermarkets and village shops. Suddenly, you’re not an individual any more doing their shopping quietly.
You’re part of a global movement that is crying out for products that are sustainably-sourced, fairly-traded, and free of human trafficking.