The Moral Shopping Basket

Maybe inspired by the BBC's Ethical Man experiment, The Sydney Morning Herald last week "set out to discover how easy - or hard - it is to be an ethical shopper by applying a simple set of principles." They would only buy stuff if the product/service did not harm the environment, didn't exploit workers or was produced in an sustainable manner. (We tend to think the latter principle is largely covered by the first two.) In short they found it a challenge, and mostly because retail shop staff had no idea about the basic issues. Sports shoes stores didn't know there was anything to be concerned about PVC. Supermarket staff and managers were unfamiliar with the concept of Fair Trade. Deli fish counters were selling seafood species that Australian Marine Conservation Society reckon shouldn't be there because they do not reproduce regularly and in any quantity, and cannot be fished sustainably, like the deep sea Orange Roughy. Even when they found the prestige cosmetic line, Jurlique, that uses natural plant extracts and organically and bio-dynamically grown herbs, they encountered ethical dilemmas. The company is now part owned by a gambling operator and a fast-food company. This intriguing article concludes with what they feel finally was a win. Disposable nappies (diapers) made from biodegradable corn starch. And for once the corn is not Genetically Modified. Though biodegradable and landfill are not two concepts that fit well together. ::Sydney Morning Herald, via tip from Huw K.

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