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How to be an ethical/sustainable consumer on a tight budget.

Travel Forums Off Topic How to be an ethical/sustainable consumer on a tight budget.

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11. Posted by mikeyBoab (Travel Guru 5077 posts) 9y

NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Let's get a few things clear.

1. So called "Fair Trade" products - firstly, the majority of the price you pay stays with the supermarket and does not go to the farmer. Secondly, where a "fair" price is paid to the farmer, the price is purely artificial and does not reflect the market value of the product in question. What does this mean Mikey? I'm glad you asked. This means that the farmer will produce more of the product because he can sell it at the higher price which means that levels of supply rise. And as anyone who knows the first thing about economics will tell you, a rise in supply will usually push the price of a product down, meaning that other farmers selling the same product are paid EVEN LESS than the "unfair" price.

2. Organic farming - this form of "environmentally friendly" farming generally does not allow the use of pesticides and chemicals. Pesticides and chemicals allow us to use less land to grow the same amount of produce, averaging about one third of the prior land use. So in order to grow "organic" produce, we have to clear about three times the amount of forest to create sufficient farm-land, hardly en environmentally friendly option.

So, to answer the question -

Buy whatever suits your budget. Recycle the cans.

12. Posted by magykal1 (Travel Guru 2026 posts) 9y

I think that point (1) is only really valid if you believe that the 'market value' is a fair price, which personally I don't necessarily - fair trade is an attempt to offer people the chance to pay producers in third world a living wage for their produce. I've no doubt that some supermarkets cash in on this, but also no doubt that for many the aims are laudable - co-op's fairtrade policy for example.

(2) is sort of true but the use of some chemicals in farming has a catastrophic effect on biodiversity, and you're gonna want to peel those vegetables... Increased productivity isn't really the point of organic farming is it? We could avoid clearing as much forest by eating less meat which is much more intensive on land use.

13. Posted by garry moll (Budding Member 348 posts) 9y

lets get this right,,,,garry moll dunt neede spellin lesons, its is trade mark !!!!!!
bah,,,so wot if e cant spel

14. Posted by Mel. (Travel Guru 4567 posts) 9y

I use vinegar, to clean bathroom, kitchen counter tops, floors and windows. It could probably be used for washing dishes too, but I dont do that.
Here in Germany, it is possible to buy special cleaning vinegar.
When I lived in Ireland, I used to just use the cheapest cooking vinegar I could find. ;)

Mel

15. Posted by mikeyBoab (Travel Guru 5077 posts) 9y

Quoting magykal1

I think that point (1) is only really valid if you believe that the 'market value' is a fair price

That's not the point - whether the price is "fair" or not, that is the market price and to offer an artificially inflated price can have severe implications.

Look at it this way. Let's say there are ten farmers in Wherever growing bananas. Again, for the sake of argument, the market cost of a kilo of bananas is one dollar. If we offer one of the farmers two dollars a kilo (because we are nice people), what happens to the other nine farmers? One farmer ends up living comfortably, the rest of them struggle. Furthermore, farmer number one is thinking, "Hey, two dollars a kilo! I think I'll produce even more of these!" So , there are more bananas on the market now, which drives the price down further. So, not only did the other nine farmers lose out, now their bananas are only worth 50 cents a kilo, because farmer number one is churning out all the bananas he can.

And point 2 - eating less meat - this probably won't happen. And if it did, it would increase demand (and thus price) for vegetables which would mean that consumers have to spend more of their income just to eat.

16. Posted by magykal1 (Travel Guru 2026 posts) 9y

You're assuming Mikey that we're all selfish a la Milton Friedman. I like to believe that its not the case, andthat individuals will still sometimes act to further the greater good when given a choice, but maybe I'm a naive soft lefty.

17. Posted by Mel. (Travel Guru 4567 posts) 9y

Quoting mikeyBoab

And point 2 - eating less meat - this probably won't happen. And if it did, it would increase demand (and thus price) for vegetables which would mean that consumers have to spend more of their income just to eat.

It would not increase demand, for vegetables.
The problem with people eating a lot of meat, is the amount of vegetation an animal must eat, to produce a certain amount of meat.
These vegetables an animal eats can feed more people, than the meat the animal produces.

18. Posted by Clairabell (Budding Member 17 posts) 9y

Hi Clarabell,

As good food ethically sourced and saving money are all issue close to my heart and purse I thought I would add a few comments.

Firstly, not sure what farmers markets you guys are going to but the ones in my area (North London) are bloody expensive and certainly not the place for me to get my weekly shop! They tend to be populated by the hemp wearing, 'isn't it great to be sooo organic' parade, who seem to have little understanding that what's important is that food is sourced locally, ensuring freshness and low air mileage.

That said most of the store holders (not the ones trying to flog me artisan bread for £3 a loaf) do have a real interest in good food produced ethically. I have also found that as I am only shopping for two that I can get a decent range of fruit and veg for about £10 that will easily last me a week.

I would also love to recommend a great cook book 'The New English Kitchen' as a good source of recipes that focus on using quality ingredients to make great food in a economical way. For example if you buy one ethically/ locally reared, organic chicken for £8 you can with some clever planning make four meals out of this one humble animal. One meal from the breast meat, one from the legs and cook up the carcass to make stock which you could use to make soups.

I don't know how much you eat or cook for friends, but I have certainly found that with a few good store cupboard ingredients (lentils, tinned toms, spices, dried mushrooms ect..) that I can bring in a weekly shop for two greedy people in at about £25.

Hope this helps

19. Posted by Clarabell (Travel Guru 1696 posts) 9y

I know exactly what you mean Clairabell (great username ;). The people who use farmers markets etc where I live (sheffield) are usually nice middle class people, living off incomes a student nurse could only dream of.

Although not vegetarian I am really keen on Veggie food, especially chickpeas and lentils etc. And pulses are so cheap and wholesome and tasty. I feel the whole process of farming livestock is environmentally a bit dodgy. Yeah ok, I may also have to bury my head in the sand about pesticides and fertilizers. I feel much healthier being veggie, but I love eating meat sometimes.

Thanks everyone for your tips. I started this thread after being consumed with guilt for not buying fair-trade coffee. It still seems that in most western countries, buying and consuming in a way that is ethical and environmentally less harmful, is only an option for people either on higher incomes or with tons of spare time. Any opinions?

20. Posted by Brendan (Respected Member 1824 posts) 9y

Quoting Clarabell

It still seems that in most western countries, buying and consuming in a way that is ethical and environmentally less harmful, is only an option for people either on higher incomes or with tons of spare time. Any opinions?

That kind of seems like a cop-out to me, I can only go based on where I live though. And I'm not sure the situation is exactly where you are... but I hear that same thing where I live. So I will go over the options here, which very well could be similar to there

What's expensive is packaged foods - organic or not. Yes if a person is used to buying a box of frozen dinners decides to buy organic frozen dinners then yes there is sometimes a 200% increase in cost. However buying essential bulk goods and creating meals is a much cheaper way to go... and possible you would spend less than buying a packaged normal good.

Another thing to consider is buying just a few of the main items as organic, some things are worse than others as far as pesticides/GMO/fertilizers are concerned. Things like oats, corn, there are few more main things that have higher levels of pesticides.

One thing for me is Canola (rapeseed) oil.

I buy organic expeller pressed canola oil because for one, in Canada the majority of canola crops are "Round-Up Ready". Meaning they have been genetically altered by Monsanto to resist the effects of Round-Up. Thus farmers drench their fields in Round-Up (which may not kill the canola, but still goes on and in it.) The other thing with normal canola oil is its method of product... [Abort] I was looking up a couple facts to verify my statements and am now finished consuming Canola oil - "Organic" or otherwise. No method of production I researched is safe for human consumption. I'll just stick to Flax and Olive oils.