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Does shopping ethically really make a difference?

World Vision
4 February 2015 by Ruth Dearnley
Does shopping ethically really make a difference?

World Vision's work in Kochere, Ethiopia has helped thousands of families earn a better income through ethically produced coffee. Photo by Kebede Gizachew, World Vision

Does shopping ethically really make a difference? Yes.

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes!

I am sure, like me, you are appalled that in 2015 there are 168 million children trapped in child labour. I know you too will be saddened that in this day and age, children are still being denied access to the most basic rights, such as an education.

So here is a challenging thought for you:
Do you sometimes make excuses for not doing something about it?

I think we all do.

Questioning whether ethical shopping actually makes a difference to the number of people suffering from exploitation in dangerous and dirty conditions, is one such excuse.

It’s not always intentional, but doubting the impact of our purchasing decisions, is a step closer towards justifying our actions and absolving ourselves of responsibility for doing something about this horrific injustice.

We all fall into this trap from time to time, but what has helped drive me to ensure I shop ethically as much as possible, is rememberingthe huge impact it does have.

A couple of years ago, sales of Fairtrade products increased by nearly 200% in Australia and New Zealand in just one year – this is a great example of individual actions, influencing wider scale change in the retail market – which has a direct impact in improving the lives of farming communities in developing countries.

Every single time you shop, you vote with your dollar and it makes a difference.

There are a third less child labourers today than in 2000.

That’s 78 million children no longer being exploited for profit.

And this only has happened because of the concerted efforts of Governments, businesses, NGOs like World Vision, and individuals – like you and me.

So, never doubt the impact that you have. As the inspirational Helen Keller once said:

“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do”.

Ruth Dearnley Ruth Dearnley

Ruth is the former Public Advocacy Manager at World Vision Australia and a passionate advocate for all the little things we can all do to make a more just world.


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