Monday, 21 January 2013

The Tide is Turning

Some time ago, we received a communication from an organisation that claimed all consumerism was wrong and that it would not associate itself with a directory that promoted selling of any kind, even if this related to green and ethical products. This viewpoint has been repeated many times in various guises, and is often manifested in different political interpretations such as communism vs capitalism and socialism vs free market thinking. Irrespective of ideals and political persuasions however, and whether we agree with consumerism or not, the reality of the situation is that it is here to stay. The question then becomes one of what types of consumerism are acceptable and which are not? This is where the true debate lies. There is certainly bad and irresponsible consumerism. A shirt made from cotton grown using pesticides and use of child labour may be cheap but it is certainly not ethical. Filling a car with cheaper fuel provided by an oil company that is destroying natural habitats and ruining lives in areas like the Niger Delta or the Arctic gives the green light to such companies to continue with impunity. Buying beef from cattle raised on land from cleared rainforests, sourcing paper from companies associated with the jungles of Borneo being cut down and decimation of orang-utan populations, buying from supermarkets which sell unsustainable palm oil, buying electronic gadgets built with rare earth metals from toxic mining where countless children have been poisoned and killed, the list is endless... [read more]