We all need to know the real story of the products that surround us. We can ask ourselves questions such as
- Where do they come from?
- Where and how were the raw materials extracted?
- Who was involved in its production and what is their story?
If we find out the story is an ugly one (which unfortunately it is more often than not) we should demand products with a different, more responsible story.
Because the reality is that as consumers, by demanding Responsible Products we help drive the transformation to transparent supply chains.
Responsible Products are still missing from most product categories and retail channels. But by buying Responsible Products where they exist and asking for them where they don't, we increase the market demand for them, thereby encouraging commodity producers, product makers and retailers to meet this demand.
These are some of the actions you can take:
- Responsible Products usually carry a certification mark to show that they meet certain environmental and/or social standards. Become familiar with these marks.
- Check product labels to find out what contains, palm oil, soy or their derivatives for example. This can be difficult, firstly as they can be labelled as any number of things - palm oil is often just labelled as vegetable oil - and secondly because they are present in so many products, from chocolate, biscuits and processed foods to shampoo and cosmetic products. Nevertheless it is a good first step to become more aware of the sorts of products these ingredients appear in – you will be surprised!
- Learn the sourcing policies of the stores where you shop. You can usually find this information on retailers’ websites. Major retailers require their suppliers to meet specific environmental and labour practice standards - find out if their standards meet your standards.
- Ask store managers about the origins of ingredients that can negatively impact the environment. They may not have immediate answers, but they will remember the question, and the more people ask questions about the sourcing of products, the more retailers will recognise the importance to their customers of the sustainability and transparency of their supply chains.
- Keep checking labels and looking out for new certification marks. Various major retailers have recently committed to challenging schedules for labelling transparency and switching to sustainable palm oil or soy use.
- Join NGO campaigns on the internet and on the ground. Greenpeace and other NGOs are really good at raising awareness and creating the momentum with consumers and companies to change product stories. Join the movement!
Get directly involved with conservation and development work by supporting TFT Projects under The Climate Tree. These TFT projects are on-the-ground initiatives helping forest and farming communities and promoting sustainable land management. Because if we want Responsible Products on our shelves we also need to support the people who want to produce them but do not have the resources or expertise to do so.
TFT’s Climate Tree initiative gives individuals and companies the opportunity to donate and to engage directly with forest community projects fostering social entrepreneurship that is good for the communities and also good for the forest and our climate.