Sunday, 14 October 2012

Sustainability and Fairness

BFTF had the chance to give a short talk to some Scouts at the 92nd Scout Group recently on the topic of "Sustainability and Fairness".

Having put the effort into into devising it, thought it might be an ideal to bung it on the blog in case it was of use to others.

Introduction
BFTF started of by explaining that the talk was about how people could take care of the world around us to protect it for future generations, and that "Fairness" could relate to the treatment of the Envirnment, of People and of Animals by taking a few specific examples. In each case, two of the Scouts pretended to be farmers with very different approaches to farming. Whose produce would the rest of the Scouts want to buy?

Free Range Eggs.
Farmer 1 : Keeps their hens in tiny cages all the time.
Farmer 2 : Allows their hens to wander around freely, according to Free-Range standards
The Scouts want to buy from...Farmer 2 (Winningly, they all said that their parents already purchased Free-Range eggs!)

FSC / Recycled Paper
Paper Producer 1 : Buys wood from forests that are sustainably managed to FSC standards.
Paper Producer 2 : Buys wood from forests that are clear-felled without care for the eco-systems or indiginous people living there.
The Scouts want to buy from...Paper Producer 1 (and were interested in the FSC logo on a FSC prodcut that BFTF took along)

Fish
Fisherman 1 : Takes as much fish as possible from the ocean, without care for whta happens to the seabed or the future fish population.
Fisherman 2 : Fishes to MSC standards, ensuring that fish populations stay at healthy levels and that bycatch is minimised.
The Scouts want to buy from...Fisherman 1 (and were interested in the MSC logo on a can of tinned mackerel BFTF took along, although some were dubious that the logo had a fishy element to it).

Chocolate
Chocolate Producer 1 : Buys cocoa from the cheapest source, without regard to the wages being paid to the farmers or farmworkers.
Chocolate Producer 2 : Buys cocoa under the FairTrade scheme, which gives farming communities a fair wage and allows them to invest in schools and other infrastructure.
Inevitably, the Scouts unanimously plumbed for Chocolate Producer 2, and were more than happy to eat the FairTrade chocolate that BFTF had brought along!

We can't do everything.
Of course, we can't all do everything - and there is seemingly an endless list of things that we are asked to consider when purchasing products, from sustainable palm oil to human rights issues to the safety of specific ingredients. BFTF certainly can't keep track on everything, not can BFTF "do the right thing" in every case.

But what BFTF can do, and perhaps what we can all do, is to pick a few issues and make a difference in those areas. Indeed, all the Scouts had already done this by buying Free-Range eggs.

Another approach that can be taken in cases where "doing the right thing" is significantly more expensive is to buy the ethical product occasionally - say one time in two or three (and approach that BFTF takes with Tuna and, sometimes, chocolate)

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