Buy free range eggs. Choose fair trade. Boycott palm oil and save the Orangutans. I’d love to make more ‘ethical’ decisions with regard to my consumption, yet, often I felt I haven’t had the information. Yes, I’ll gladly buy tuna from a company which engages in more sustainable fishing practices if only I knew what brand that was.
Well, at least 100,000 Australians do. That’s how many copies The Guide To Ethical Supermarket Shopping (2012) has sold to date. To my surprise, this handy little book is up to it’s 5th edition. While I like being able to flick through the book, it seems there’s even more information online at the Ethical Consumer Guide.
What I like most about it is that it names brands. Companies are often so large you don’t realise what brands they market. Andrew was surprised to read that Deep Spring, Ecks, Kirks and Shelleys are all from Coca-Cola Amatil.
Similarly, Maggi, Uncle Toby’s, Peters, Carnation, Skinny Cow, Perrier and even Pet food brands like Fancy Feast, Friskies, GoCat, LucyDog and Purina are all owned by Nestle. While the Ethical Consumer Guide doesn’t call the boycotts, it certainly provides information on who has and why with both Nestle and Coca-Cola Company on the list (as at date of writing).
Yet it’s not just about the companies. I’m delighted that someone has taken the mystery out of ‘Product of Australia’ and ‘Made in Australia’ for me. That there is information out there which makes it possible for me to buy more ethically. Instead of trying to figure out which company manufactures the product, or whether the ‘vegetable oil’ listed is really palm oil, this guide tells me plain and simple – right now in 2012, buying La Gina canned tomatoes is better than Val Verde. Better yet, it tells me this in areas I hadn’t even considered. Choices of eggs, meat, coffee or cosmetics – I’m aware there are ethical decisions here. Yet, I’ve never thought about noodles in terms of ethical choices. When I looked at those 2 minute squares in crinkly packets, I’ve not previously thought – who made this, what did they put in it and how did it affect the environment getting on this shelf?
The information even comes in an iphone app. I encourage you to check it out.