Traffik-free shopping: a guide
Over the past month we have been telling you about the atrocities that go into making some of the products we use daily. Things like coffee, sugar, chocolate, and clothes. Many of you may have been enthused to take the step to buying certified products don’t quite know how to begin. So, without further ado, here is a guide that will equip you with everything you need to start shopping ethically!
The first and most important change to make is to think when you shop. Many of us when we are doing our weekly shop are thinking about many things: price, quality, getting the shopping done as quickly as possible… but many of us don’t even think about what went into making the product we are buying.
If we are going to shop ethically, we must think ethically. It may take a little longer and maybe even cost a little more but it is worth it to not be funding exploitation and trafficking.
When thinking ethically there are a lot of things that go into making fair trade choices and shopping clever.
- Firstly, make sure you are thinking about whether this product is certified. This is of primary importance and even without thinking about the other things on this list just raising demand for Fairtrade products means that it will force companies into doing more to keep up with the demand.
- Once you have mastered the first stage it is useful to think about the sustainability of the company you are buying from. Research your products and see if their ethical production is really a sustainable solution to the issue of fair trade.
- More advanced is considering whether the company is doing the absolute minimum or not. For example they may be doing no more than just paying a fair wage or they may be investing in the farm itself or they may be going further and investing in projects and in communities. The more that is invested the more sustainable and substantial the change is.
Certified shopping isn’t perfect and doesn’t claim to be, but the smarter we shop and the more we invest in companies that are going the extra mile the more demand there will be for this kind of fair trade. When demand increases for fairer fair trade, the shops will make the change.
The important thing when shopping is to know what you are looking for, but how do you know? There are many different ways of knowing what is fair trade. If you are unsure, a good way to find out is always to ask! Whether you ask a person or the internet it is best to be safe rather than sorry.
Recognise the labels
One way to know what is fair trade is through the labels. There are many labels that show that the product is certified as fair trade, here are the most widely used ones:
Knowing your products
Another way of knowing what to buy is by knowing which brand is ethical and which is not. Furthermore, it is important to start recognising which products are the most ethical and unethical and making wise choices when choosing which brands to use.
Here are some useful web links to use when shopping:
Here is an ethical fashion directory: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/ethical-fashion-directory-uk-clothing-brands-fairtrade-vegan
- All brands: food, cosmetics, toiletries, clothes:
This website gives each company a rating for each product on how ethical it is so that you know which brand to buy and which not to buy for each product. http://www.thegoodshoppingguide.com/
For those of you who are more technically minded and want a more convenient way to know whether you’re food has been ethically produced an app may be more convenient.
One I would recommend is GoodGuide. It is a free app that you can download to any smart phone. To use it you simply scan the products bar code and get access to health, environment and social performance ratings. This is simple, easy to use and convenient
Other apps include: BUYcott, The story behind the barcode, Free world and Fair Trade Finder.
Another good way of shopping ethically is by buying locally. Buying from stores that source locally means that they can keep a closer eye on where the products are coming from and can easily track their supply chain. Ask in store how they track their supply chain and ensure that it is ethical.
(Look out for our upcoming blog: “An Everyday Guide to Traffik-Free living in Northern Ireland” that gives you suggestions of shops that are local to you, independent and ethical!)
Products to watch out for
There are a number of products that are more susceptible to being unethical than others, these you should be particularly aware of when shopping and should watch out for the Fairtrade labels and for how ethical the brands are. Here are a few of the most contentious products to be aware of:
As we saw from WAMBI’s story within the cocoa industry a lot of exploitation goes into chocolate production. Make sure you are aware of what brands to buy when you get a craving for chocolate.
Here is a list of chocolate brands that Food is power think are ethical and unethical: http://www.foodispower.org/chocolate-list/
Good shopping guide give a rating to each brand on how ethical their products are: http://www.thegoodshoppingguide.com/ethical-chocolate/
Two fair trade coffee brands are Clipper and Café Direct.
Here are some websites that will give you all the information you need so that you can enjoy your coffee guilt-free:
Ethical Instant coffee score table: http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/buyersguides/drink/instantcoffee.aspx
Ethical coffee ground and bean score table: http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/buyersguides/drink/groundcoffee.aspx
When deciding where to go for a cup of coffee out read this first to help you make an ethical decision: http://www.globalexchange.org/fairtrade/retailers
Use the app: Ethical bean
Enjoy your cup of tea without the ethical price tag with fair trade brands like Clipper. See more information at:
Sugar from Trade craft and Tate and Lyle are good examples of fair trade sugar brands.
Use this guide before shopping so that you know which high street brands are ethical:
Fife is an example of an ethical banana brand. Here are some examples of more:
Places to shop
Another way to start shopping ethically is by being aware of how ethical the actual shops you are doing your shopping in are. An example of a good place to shop ethically is the Co-op, look particularly at the Fairtrade and worker’s rights section that show just how ethical the company is.
If you are a business and you have been inspired to take the step to become an ethical establishment then there are a couple of things you could do straight away.
- Track your supply chain as far back as you can. At every stage in the chain try and ensure that all resources used have been produced ethically and that the workers are treated fairly.
- Stock fair trade. Buy fair trade as much as you can. There are fair trade resources that can be bought from, product wholesalers and providers. Here is a website that tells you where to buy a range of products that have been certified as fair trade: http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/~/media/fairtradeuk/for%20business/documents/national_fairtrade_purchasing_guide_2015.ashx
- Try to buy locally where possible. This makes it easier to track the supply chain and ensure that exploitation is not occurring at any stage.
- Become certified. You can do this by joining the British Association of Fair Trade(BAFT’s), http://bafts.org.uk/resources/
You are now fully equipped to make the swap to fairer trade. By doing so you are being an everyday activist and are helping to combat human trafficking. We have the power as consumers to make a change. We vote with our money and now that you know how you can vote against human trafficking let’s begin voting NO!