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Consumer Society Gone Wrong?

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On November 7, 2018

On September 26th, 2018 the president of Honduras gave a speech at the United Nations in New York1. A speech about injustice, demanding a fairer treatment for the coffee farmers of his country. He came prepared with cold hard facts, showing the world that a cup of coffee in New York costs you 5$ on average, he presented the corresponding bill, while the farmer gets 2 cents out of those 5$. As this alone was not heavy enough, at the beginning of his speech, he made an interesting comment saying, if you like to drink coffee, then you might be helping to create this injustice, without even knowing it.

 

A simple example like this one makes us aware, that there is a gap between a producer, especially in a development, or emerging market nation and us, the consumers. It is a gap regarding the payments, we make and this producer gets. This gap does not concern coffee only, but many other items of our daily life as well. When we read under what kind of conditions our clothes are made in Asia2. How hard the life of the tea and coffee farmers is3. The list goes on and on. The big question is, is there anything we, as individuals, can do about it? Well, there is and I would like to highlight just two options out of the many.

 

Next time you are buying your groceries, just take a closer look at what you are actually buying. If you turn towards products that carry specific labels like “Fairtrade®”, you might be ending up paying a bit more. But those organizations offer a fair price for the producers in those countries4. Consequently, you are actively fighting against poverty in that region, your product has been grown. A different approach would be reducing the consumption of fruits and vegetables grown under questionable circumstances. It should not take too long to find similar products just like coffee, were the price you pay and the part the producer actually gets is in such a huge imbalance. By doing this you will automatically consume with a higher awareness and who knows, maybe even reduce your waste too.

 

Most people might not even be aware of the power they have by deciding to grab a specific item out of a shelf at a supermarket. But it is really up to us, the individual and our choices we make. We do have an impact on companies to pay the producers a fair price for their work. Lastly, I would like to quote the former President of the United States, Barak Obama with the speech he gave in Des Moines, Iowa on November 6th 2012. “One voice can change a room.  And if it can change a room, it can change a city.  And if it can change a city, it can change a state.  And if it can change a state, it can change a nation. And if it can change a nation, it can change the world”5.

 

It is really up to you to make a fair deal possible for those guys on the other side of the world!

 

  1. https://www.apnews.com/50ecb9f5ec93421e9a14edfcc1616e7e
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/jun/25/female-cambodian-garment-workers-mass-fainting
  3. https://www.fairtrade.org.uk/Farmers-and-Workers/Tea
  4. https://www.fairtrade.net/standards/price-and-premium-info.html
  5. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2012/11/06/remarks-first-lady-and-president-final-campaign-rally-des-moines-ia

 

 

Last modified: November 7, 2018

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