When you think about how to create the greatest impact with your money, how to be both a conscious and ethical consumer, there are a number of important things consider.
One model that has become increasingly popular is the “one for one” model – you buy a pair of shoes and a child in need is given a pair, you buy a T-shirt and a tree is planted, or you buy a bag and a child receives a meal. Although this model seems attractive and straightforward, it is often not very transparent or effective.
If the shoes are not produced in the community where you want to make an impact, but in a factory in China, it gives a very shortsighted benefit. It may even have a direct negative benefit as it competes with local shoemakers in the community which you hope to support.
Buying a T-shirt and having a tree planted can be achieved with varying impact. An important question to ask is: Who is going to actually plant the tree and how will it be done? If a company is based in one country and planting trees in another, they will need a local partner who understands local circumstances well and will ensure that their activities serve the needs of that community.
Giving a meal to a person in need is a wonderful cause to support, of course, but the impact is much stronger and sustainable if the item from which the proceeds were generated was made fairly in the country that you are trying to benefit.
Deciphering which purchases will truly make an impact can seem daunting, but as a consumer it is important to be curious and to ask questions. Questioning how companies are making the impact they promise raises the bar higher and will ensure that our impact is more than simply marketing.
At Far & Wide Collective, everything we do is centered around achieving long-term economic development. Everything we sell is produced in the community we want to benefit and is improving skills, creating jobs and building small businesses. There is an inbuilt sustainability to what we do – the more we sell, the more we can buy, resulting in stronger businesses, stronger local economies and a greater overall benefit to the local communities.
For more information on Far & Wide Collective, please visit www.farandwidecollective.com.