Saturday, May 5, 2012

Ethical shopping

I find I'm getting much more picky with the products I buy these days. A couple of years ago the only real thought when buying things was cost and taste. Now it seems there are so many things that you should or shouldn't buy for various reasons - they're unsustainable, bad for the orangutans, full of chemicals or preservatives, the producers don't get a fair price, country of origin...etc, etc.

Some changes I've made in the past year or so have been:

  1. Getting rid of most cleaning products and using mostly vinegar, baking soda and Wendyl's natural cleaners.
  2. Buying most toiletries from Lush - chemical free. 
  3. Buying any make up from The Body Shop. I like that they use Samoan coconuts too. 
  4. Avoiding Cotton Soft/Kiwi Soft toilet paper even though it is the cheapest due to protected rainforest trees being found in the product.
  5. Buying free range eggs - from the market though. The supermarket free range eggs are still too pricey.
  6. Buying fresh produce from the market - it's nice paying half the price, eating in season and sometimes chatting with the growers/sellers (I got 3.5 free cauliflower from a grower last weekend).
  7. Most recently changing dish washing liquid brands after finding out my usual one contains palm oil.
  8. Buying fair trade coffee.
  9. If available, choosing fair trade bananas. There's not often that choice at the market though.
  10. New Zealand grown, not Chinese, garlic.
  11. Making our own jams/relishes and most other things from scratch. That way I know exactly what's gone into it (a lot of sugar, mostly!). 
They've all been small changes and not difficult to make. Two things I'd like to change next is to find out which brand of tuna is most sustainable, and to orangutan proof my shopping trolley using this guide.

I made a few of these decisions after reading something about it in the media (eg. about toilet paper) but to be honest, I found out about most things from my mum. Just this week she told me that some home brand milk powders use Auzzie milk - surely we produce enough of our own milk in NZ. Just as well we only use Anchor anyway. 

What's your primary consideration when choosing products? Are there any products you won't buy or try to always buy that aren't on my list?

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