Grow­ing taste for eth­i­cal pur­chases

More and more New Zealan­ders are choos­ing prod­ucts that ben­e­fit oth­ers in a bid to tackle global poverty. Deputy edi­tor Jenny Ling looks at the rise of the con­scious con­sumer.

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

Sam Drumm is among a grow­ing num­ber of con­sumers who want to help al­le­vi­ate world poverty, one pur­chase at a time.

The 27-year-old trade jus­tice ad­vo­cate has been a vol­un­teer for Fair Trade Auck­land City Trust for three years.

He was part of a team that con­vinced Auck­land Coun­cil to switch to fair trade tea, cof­fee and hot choco­late for its staff two years ago.

He is also a cam­paign man­ager for the Global Poverty Project and is work­ing on its an­nual Live Be­low the Line cam­paign, which sees around 2000 Ki­wis sign up to live on $2.25 a day for five days – the New Zealand equiv­a­lent of the World Bank ex­treme poverty line of $1.25 a day.

Since its launch in 2010 more than US$10 mil­lion has been raised for more than 90 char­i­ties world­wide.

Mr Drumm be­came in­ter­ested in the fair trade so­cial move­ment at school and through his trav­els.

‘‘I lived in a cof­fee grow­ing coun­try [East Ti­mor] for a year and got a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of how cof­fee works – how hard farm­ers work and how lit­tle they get in re­turn.

‘‘That’s a fairly con­stant story across a lot of com­modi­ties.

‘‘Fair trade pro­vides a good so­lu­tion.

‘‘It’s a fairly sim­ple, pow­er­ful de­ci­sion con­sumers can make ev­ery day that has a tan­gi­ble pos­i­tive af­fect for farm­ers around the world.’’

And it seems the trend is grow­ing.

New Zealan­ders spent $45 mil­lion on fair trade cer­ti­fied prod­ucts like cof­fee, choco­late, cot­ton, ba­nanas and su­gar in 2012 which in­creased to $52 mil­lion in 2013.

‘‘It seems like more and more people are want­ing to find more eth­i­cal ways of buy­ing ev­ery­day prod­ucts,’’ Mr Drumm says.

‘‘Fair trade cer­ti­fied and Trade Aid prod­ucts pro­vide that.

‘‘Oc­ca­sion­ally it can cost more but where it does I’m con­fi­dent to say it’s a worth­while de­ci­sion to make to spend $1 more on ba­nanas or a few cents more on a packet of tea. ‘‘It’s ab­so­lutely jus­ti­fied. ‘‘When people look at the story be­hind the prod­ucts they can un­der­stand why that ex­tra dol­lar makes such an im­pact.’’

Fair­trade is a cer­ti­fi­ca­tion scheme that sets out to tackle poverty and em­power pro­duc­ers in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries. Fair­trade Aus­tralia and New Zealand gen­eral man­ager Steve Knapp says re­tail sales were ‘‘a cou­ple of thou­sand dol­lars’’ when it started in New Zealand in 2005.

‘‘Now it’s $52 mil­lion,’’ he says.

‘‘That’s tremen­dous sup­port from New Zealand con­sumers.

‘‘People are gen­uinely more in­ter­ested in where prod­ucts have come from and where they’ve been pro­duced.’’

Mr Knapp says though people will al­ways want to bag a bar­gain, they are start­ing to weigh up the true cost.

‘‘It’s got to a point where people are ask­ing ‘If I’m buy­ing it for this price, how much is the per­son mak­ing it get­ting’?

‘‘It’s not just about the price, it’s about the qual­ity and whether it’s be­ing pro­duced in a sus­tain­able way.

‘‘In the end no­body wants to feel like they’ve got a bar­gain at the ex­pense of kids work­ing in sweat­shops.’’

Con­scious Con­sumers is a busi­ness ac­cred­i­ta­tion pro­gramme which gives the pub­lic in­for­ma­tion about cafes, restaurants, del­i­catessens, and sup­pli­ers that use sus­tain­able prod­ucts and prac­tices.

It was es­tab­lished by Ben Gleis­ner in Welling­ton in 2010 and ex­panded to Auck­land the fol­low­ing year.

There are 12 ‘‘badges’’ businesses can col­lect by fol­low­ing eth­i­cal prac­tices that in­clude free range, fair trade, or­ganic, com­post­ing, eco­clean­ers, eco-pack­ag­ing, sus­tain­able fish and re­cy­cling.

The pro­gramme also records col­lec­tive ef­forts and re­sults such as help­ing 700 an­i­mals avoid fac­tory-style farm­ing and di­vert­ing 227,600 ki­los of re­cy­clables from land­fill each year.

‘‘There’s a high num­ber and high re­sponse from people want­ing to know where their food comes from,’’ spokes­woman Adri­ana Aven­dano Christie says.

‘‘It’s about mak­ing sure what you’re buy­ing is em­pow­er­ing some­one else,’’ she says.

Photo: JENNY LING

Poverty fighter: Sam Drumm is a fan of cafes that uses fair trade prod­ucts.

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