Archived News Item

Ethical and Sustainable Purchasing

The indigenous people of Chiapas, Mexico, collect coffee cherries for the indigenous people of Canada, bringing native communities together for mutual benefit.


Key policy area: Procurement
“Consider environmental impact in the purchase and use of goods and services.”


There are an estimated 370 million indigenous people in the world, living across 90 countries. They make up less than 5 per cent of the world’s population, but account for 15 per cent of the poorest.


In his encyclical letter, Laudato Si’, Pope Francis wrote: “…we have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”


August 9 is the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. One way of marking the day is to become aware of the impact that our everyday purchasing has on the lives of many of the poorest of the human community – which includes a disproportionate number of people from indigenous cultures. In particular, clothing, sugar, coffee and chocolate are huge industries which often rely on the labour of the poor and cause damage to their homelands.


The challenge we face
Sweatshops, characterised by exploitative wages, excessive work hours and unsafe working conditions, are widespread. Cheap clothing perpetuates the exploitation of a vulnerable human workforce and externalizes the cost to the environment of textile creation.


Read more here.


What can you do?
Vote with your dollar and choose good-quality clothing made from eco-friendly fabrics and by a workforce paid a fair wage.


Download the Good on You app to learn how different brands rate on how they treat people, animals and the planet.


The challenge we face
Sugar is considered by the World Bank to be the second most protected agricultural commodity in the world behind rice – yet sugarcane is known as “the hunger crop” due to the low prices paid to farmers and workers. Most sugarcane imports come from places where people living in rural areas are ‘multi-dimensionally poor’ – defined as an acute experience of poverty in three key areas: health, education and living standards.


What can you do?
Purchase locally grown sugar or ensure you are purchasing Fairtrade sugar products. When you commit to buying certified brands you are voting with your wallet!


Tea and Coffee
The challenge we face
Tea is the most popular drink in the world after water and coffee is the second most tradable commodity after oil, yet workers struggle to get a fair deal with growers receiving less than 10 per cent of the retail price of the product. As with sweatshop labor, growers are not always treated well and often work in poor and/or unsustainable conditions.


What can you do?
Once again, by buying Fairtrade and/or Rainforest Alliance-certified tea and coffee, farmers and workers can rely on fairer and more secure prices and an opportunity to make an income which will support support themselves, and their family, without decimating their environment.


Making some simple changes to your procurement habits, such as those we’ve suggested above, or those listed in the procurement section of ISMAPNG’s Simple Daily Gestures workbook, is a practical step most of us can take fairly easily to demonstrate care for some of the most vulnerable of our own species and our shared planet home.