The Benefits of Supporting Ethically Sourced Products
Farming is one of the most important jobs, but most farmers are underpaid, disrespected, and often forgotten. For a long time, there was no way to help the farmers. However, now with the rise of ethically sourced products, there is an easy way for consumers to help the farmers. Now with the rising popularity of fair trade products, many farmers’ lives have been lifted out of poverty, and they are freed from the intense labour required. Fairtrade also helps the ecosystem as the farmers are required to not harm the environment and not use dangerous chemicals. By buying ethically sourced products, people can help reduce human abuse, environmental damage, and animal abuse.
Using ethically sourced products, the consumers can be reassured that no human abuse has been involved in the production process. Unfortunately, many traditional products involve many forms of human abuse, such as human trafficking. “The ILO estimates 20.9 million people are victims of human trafficking” (How Fairtrade), which governments often ignore as they have more pressing issues. An industry that is notorious for human abuse is the coffee industry. The “Department of Labour reports an estimated 34,131 child labourers” (Nguyen) growing coffee in very poor countries. These children are lured in by the prospect of making money but are trapped in an endless cycle of debt. “It is estimated that 112 million children work in agriculture” (Child), a saddening trend that Fair Trade aims to combat. Fair Trade bans children below the age of 18 from working and children from 15-18 are only allowed to do work if it does not affect their education or health. But there are more reasons to buy ethically sourced than just the prevention of human abuse.
By buying ethically, the consumers can help reduce the damage that is done to the environment. Most items found in stores such as grains are harvested from monoculture farms, a practice that degrades the soil. Monoculture causes the soil to become very nutrient-poor, which forces the farmers to cut down more trees to get better soil. Unlike traditional products, most ethically sourced products are sourced from farms that rely on intercropping and agroforestry. They “do things such as planting trees to act as shade over sun-sensitive crops” (Worried about Wildlife) which can also serve other purposes. Fair-Trade “plans to protect 2.38 million hectares of farmland” (Nicholson) using a mix of those two methods. Ethical sourcing also bans the use of harsh chemicals that can contaminate the groundwater. It also attempts to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere. Overall, ethical sourcing promises to “reduce fossil fuels, reduce pollution of waterways, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and increase biodiversity” (Sustainable). Fair Trade also uses packaging that is easily biodegradable or recyclable so when it does get thrown out, it will usually not end up in a landfill. Consumers can also feel safe knowing their decision helps lower animal abuse.
When consumers buy ethically sourced products, they know that they are not contributing to animal abuse. Unfortunately, many industries abuse animals in many ways, for instance by raising them in very small spaces. A prime example of a place where this type of abuse and many others occurs is factory farms. Most factory farms today force animals in very small spaces to prioritize maximizing production and minimizing costs. An animal that is often put on factory farms is chickens as they can be crammed into very small spaces. But since chickens are curious, they like to explore their environments with their beaks, which can cause them to harm other chickens. A solution that the owners of the factory farms use is to debeak the chickens. “Some operations can debeak as many as 15 chickens per minute” (Factory Farming), and although the chicken industry claims that it is painless, it is not. Another industry that indirectly causes animal suffering is the fishing industry. Many fisheries today use a fishing method called “bottom trawling” where they cast a large net with weight and indiscriminately catch all the fish at the bottom of the ocean. Bottom trawling can damage many fish habitats. In New Zealand alone, “the New Zealand fleet destroyed up to 3,000 tonnes of deep-sea corals” (Hooper). When the deep-sea corals are destroyed, the fish living in the corals have no shelter and have a very high probability to starve to death. There is hope, though, that companies, such as Eileen Fisher, attempt to minimize animal suffering by abiding by the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare. For example, their products use responsible wool, as “[their] wool product met or exceeded the Responsible Wool Standard” (Responsible Sourcing). Nowadays, almost all industries have ethically sourced options that are easy to find, the only problem is that people are hesitant to change.
When consumers buy ethically sourced products, they help reduce human abuse, environmental damage, and animal abuse.“Today 73% of respondents to Deloitte’s last survey have deepened a business relationship because of ethical sourcing” (Wilson), which is a huge increase compared to the “50% of people that would pay a premium for ethically sourced products in 2014” (Wilson). And because of this, many companies have already switched to ethically sourced products.