With globalization came many changes and increased opportunities for businesses.
However, have we ever stopped to think, what is the impact of the products we buy?
How do these products impact the environment?
How do they impact the local communities and indigenous peoples?
Do you consider the impact of the coffee employees drink in the morning, the clothes they wear, the paper in the printer?
Also most products purchased are produced outside of Nebraska. How can we ensure that these products are not having a detrimental impact on the communities and environment where they are produced?
A majority of the products that we buy are produced somewhere else. It is important to question what environmental and social costs those products have. For example, in 2014, China was responsible for 30 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to EPA.gov. Also the Office of the United States Trade Representatives stated that in 2016, the U.S. imported the most goods from China.
We are essentially exporting our emissions to China to have these products made. We get the benefit of cheap products while China must deal with the poor air quality that impacts everyone’s overall health. Also, developing countries often do not have as strict federal labor or environmental laws as the United States, and it is important to ensure individuals are working in safe conditions and being paid a fair wage.
Tips for sourcing more responsibly:
Source products from a registered Fair Trade USA farmer group or supplier. Fair Trade USA ensures that workers are provided a safe workplace and that products are made in a way that protects the environment. Registered products include body products, food-related products, apparel, home goods and more.
If you believe your products qualify for Fair Trade registration, you can register your company. This will show consumers that your products are produced in a way that benefits people and the planet.
Purchase paper and wood products that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). FSC certified paper and wood products are made from forests that utilize high conservation practices and respect the rights of workers and local populations.
Some products can be incredibly detrimental to communities because of the way they are produced. Palm oil is found in a wide variety of products, although many of you may not be aware that you use it on a regular basis.
Palm oil, along with its derivatives, can be found in lipstick, candy bars, and bio-diesel products just to name a few. To make palm oil, nearly 400 acres of rain forest are cut down every hour to make room for palm oil plantations, according to a 2015 Huffington Post Article, ” Palm Oil Is In Everything — And It’s Destroying Southeast Asia’s Forests.” This results in habitat loss for animals and indigenous communities being forced to labor on their own land.
Businesses and consumers can select products with a clear description of where they are sourced and manufactured to ensure that those products have been produced with respect to people and to the planet. While these products may have a slightly higher cost, it is worth it to know that they are not negatively impacting communities and the environment.
ADDITION CONTRIBUTION PROVIDED BY:
Environmental Sustainability Intern, CCC
Liang recently graduated with an Associate of Arts from Central Community College. She is an Environmental Sustainability Intern for Central Community College. She is passionate about environmental and social justice.