I went to a church cell group for the first time the other night. Every third week someone in the group brings an issue they’s like to discuss and this week it was consumerism. I fear I may have scared them a little with my outspokenness; you know how my rants can usually go!
We simplified it a little by taking the case of a banana.
A banana which must be flown a few thousand miles around the earth for us to eat (creating lots of global warming causing carbon dioxide); which was likely produced using lots of chemical fertilisers and on a patch of ground which had been deforested (more environment issues there); the person who grew it probably endures difficult working conditions and is paid less than we would consider a living wage (humanitarian issues arise here).
The simple answer would appear to be: lets just not eat bananas. However, if we do that we’re removing an important, if meagre, income from the lives of a number of people. Those at the bottom of the consumer chain are in need of the little wages they do make to survive, can we really just cut that off?
So should we then just buy Fairtrade? This is a tricky one I’m going to need to look in to more because, depending on who you talk to, Fairtrade apparently isn’t always as fair as you would think.
The solution then . . . well, we didn’t have one.
I think it’s important for everyone, and especially Christians to be aware of what and where they are buying. We ought to be ethically minded; the difficulty comes when we appear to have to prioritise ethical issues.
The main point that was made was that if we adjust our lifestyle to be more ethical, do we do it from the point of “this is what I want, how can I get it more ethically” or “this is what I can get, so this is what I’ll have”?
My answer would be option two. I’m still more than up for complete self sufficiency. Ashley and I are going to plant kiwi trees (don’t ask). I’m aware it doesn’t have all the answers but it also means I can produce no more than I need, in an organic and ethical fashion.