Ethical consumerism means choosing to buy goods that have been produced with minimal harm to people and the environment. It’s also about how we use goods e.g. whether we throw lots of food away.
It can help to increase food security by:
- decreasing damage to agricultural land caused by food production, so land remains fertile
- increasing the profitability of food production, so farmers can afford to carry on producing food
- increasing the amount of money paid to poorer countries for food, so poverty decreases
- decreasing the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by transport and waste disposal
Fairtrade is a global movement which involves paying farmers a fair price for their products. This helps farmers in poorer countries make enough profit to improve their quality of life. Food produced under the fairtrade scheme is ethical and sustainable because:
- buyers pay an extra social premium on top of the fair price to help develop the area where the goods come from, e.g. to build schools or health centres. This makes buying fairtrade products more socially sustainable.
- only producers that treat their employees well can take part in the scheme, e.g. all employees must have a safe working environment. This improves the workers’ quality of life.
- there are rules about how fairtrade food is grown, farmers must use environmentally friendly methods that for example, protect biodiversity, limit greenhouse gas emissions and maintain soil health.
One third of food grown globally is wasted, by reducing this food availability will increase so that less needs to be grown overall to feed everyone. This will increase environmental and social sustainability. Schemes such as ‘love food, hate waste’ (website) encourage people, businesses and governments to be less wasteful with food by helping people plan their meals better and sharing recipe ideas for leftovers. Composting waste is also encouraged instead of putting it in the bin which reduces methane emissions from landfill. Packaging on food is also being reduced, reducing the amount of resources that are used. This also reduces the amount of waste that goes to landfill which is improving environmental sustainability.