Monthly Archives: August 2013

iPhone App of the Day: Shop Ethical!

ShopEthical-icon

Now I will be straight up and this app is not a free one and will set you back $4.49.  In saying that I do believe I have certainly got my money worth from it and it has opened my eyes into how the corporate world works and is even linked.

This app is not really practical to take shopping with you as (depending what product or company you are researching) there can be a lot of information to read.  It is probably better to write a shopping list out and then research from there (otherwise it could be a long shopping trip).

There are several things I like about this app.  Firstly it is quite easy to navigate.  It will tell you if the product is Australian made.  It will also tell you who the parent company is eg. Uncle Tobys is owned by Nestle.

The information provided by the app is quite extensive.  There are different levels products are ranked.  The best ranked products have a bold green circle with a bold green tick.  If the products are Australian made they have a picture of Australia next to the ranking.

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The worse ranking products receive a bold red circle with a bold red line through it.

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Once you press the information icon detailed information becomes available.  For the following example of the detailed informtion I will use Nestle.

shop ethical

Nestle Australia is in fact owned by the parent company Nestle.  While Nestle Australia claim to be a GE-Free brand and are a signatory to the Australian Packaging Covenant.  However Shop Ethical! are calling for a boycott of Nestle primarily due to the activities of the parent company.  These reasons include:

  • The irresponsible marketing of infant formula in developing countries leading to infant deaths.  The boycott was reinstated due to a perceived non-compliance to World Health Organisation Code regulations.
  • Control of water in North America.
  • Irresponsible marketing (especially in relation to baby formula).
  • Promotion of bottled water.
  • Child labour: for continuing to buy cocoa from the Ivory Coast, despite the use of forced child labour in that country.
  • Workers rights.
  • Water pollution in China.
  • Poor wages for coffee farmers.

While that may be enough to convince you to boycott the company, it is clear that educating people on these types of issues does place pressure on companies.  It was about 2010 when the pressure was applied to companies regarding the use of palm oil.  Since then and it has been noted that Nestle have made some changes.  In 2011, Nestle received a score of 8 out of a possible 9 in the WWF Palm Oil Buyers’ Scorecard.

As you may be able to tell the information is quite detailed.  It is an  interesting exercise to go through your pantry.  I was in fact quite horrified the first time around.  However the app can be quite empowering as it allows you to make an informed choice and it is relatively easy to find an alternative.  It also allows you to take your research  on a particular product further, as there are hyperlinks to other organisations for more information.

Shop Ethical! also has its own website that gives you further information about the community based, not-for-profit organisation and network, plus reinforcing product information.

For those that want to be informed about the products they buy this app is worth the investment.

5 stars

Back In My Day…

"Food is a Weapon - Don't Waste it" ...
“Food is a Weapon – Don’t Waste it” – NARA – 513830 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have noticed and even been involved of late with this new “revolution” to try and educate people on food waste, how it can be avoided in the first place and if you do have food waste how can it be responsibly recycled.  In the last couple of weeks through various meetings and workshops I have realised this is certainly not a new “revolution”.  I guess I take it for granted because I have always been quite mindful of waste and things like food scraps I have always placed in my kerbside organics collection, composted, placed in the worm farm or even given to our animals.  What I have come across and would like to share are the most gorgeous vintage posters.

These posters were around during the period of WWI and WWII, when rationing was a part of everyday life.  Hence the title of this blog “Back In My Day…”.  I can just hear my grandparents saying this now as we take on this issue as if it has never been addressed before.  It just goes to show we can learn a lot from our elders.

If you would like to see the many posters that were designed around this time just Google “vintage food waste posters”.  Although they had a serious message some are quite funny in this day and age (in the sense of the roles that men and women had in society at the time).

Think Glocal!

Last Wednesday (31st June) I was very fortunate to be involved in a workshop with Professor Paul Clarke, the co-founder of the Pop-Up-Foundation.

“Pop-Up-Foundation addresses one of the central challenges of our time: decoupling human progress from resource use and environmental decline.  Bringing sustainable living to people in a simple, accessible form, focused on results, Pop-Up-Foundation encourages eveyone to participate in the changes and create and share solutions.  In this way, all these small changes can connect, consolidate and have a bigger compound effect.  This is how Pop-Up-Foundation uses its local perspective to address global ecological challenge – how to live our lives sustainably.”

During this workshop we did an interesting exercise.  At our tables we had a packet of Carmen’s Muesli Bars and another muesli/breakfast bar.  This exercise required us to examine the packaging and look for information on the following…

  • Packaging (recyclable?)
  • Evidence of certification/soil association etc?
  • What is it claiming/saying about itself?
  • Can we identify where it is from?
  • Fair Trade/ direct/ ethical trade?
  • Other?

It was quite eye opening from the perspective of what is not on the packaging.  In particular, where are the ingredients sourced from?  There is nothing on packaging that identifies who the farmers are (and yes I realise there is limited space on packaging but you will find the majority of companies do not even have that information available on their websites).  Another point that was made,  for something to be labelled “Fair Trade”, only 1% of the ingredients have to be sourced as fair trade.  Astounding!!!  Well actually it’s a joke to be honest.

Another point of discussion was on one of the many projects that have been undertaken by the Pop-Up-Foundation.  The “Happy Bean Coffee Company” is a fantastic project and really does embrace the concept of “Think Glocal” – Think globally and act locally.  I believe this concept is a more realistic way of understanding concepts of food security, food miles and buying or acting locally in a world that is more connected than ever.

Further Reading…

Education for Sustainability: Becoming Naturally Smart