I threw a bottle of juice in the recycling bin this morning, and as it fell from my hand, I noticed the words “gluten-free” on the back of the bottle. My first thought was, “Really? You need a note that says that apple juice is gluten-free?”
But then, I thought about it, and realized that that a gluten-free diet has become very trendy, and companies want to capitalize on that. So, even when it should be super obvious that something is gluten-free, like juice, they put the words “GLUTEN FREE” anywhere they can on the label to make people more likely to buy it.
When I was in London this summer, I noticed something similar on their packaging, but with a different theme. Instead of everything being labeled “gluten-free,” many of the packages proclaimed across the front that they were, “made with renewable energy” or “fair trade” or “sustainable farming” etc. I was so excited to see how many companies in the UK care about their impact on the planet and the people who create their products!
I’m sure some of those companies are fair trade, organic, and sustainable because they care and want to do the right thing, but I would bet that some of them just want to sell more of their products. (To be fair, that’s why most businesses exist.) They know that consumers in the UK have started caring more about the impact that their shopping has on the world, so companies capitalize on that. If someone is choosing between a potato chip made the “regular” way and one made with fair trade organic potatoes using wind power and giving half of their proceeds to charities… well, which one do you think a consumer will buy?
So, I’m trying to do my part to encourage companies to care. For example, I recently went looking for my favorite chocolate bar in the supermarket. I love Hershey’s Symphony bars. Creamy milk chocolate with almonds and toffee chips… yum! But I know that Hershey’s is not fair trade, which means there is no guarantee that their chocolate doesn’t come from slave labor and even child labor. (Read a short article here about why fair trade chocolate is great!) So, I looked around and found a milk chocolate bar with toffee & almonds by Chocolove just one shelf over!
You’ll probably notice that the Chocolove bar is literally twice as much as the Hershey’s bar. But here’s why it matters. Chocolove has an entire page of their website dedicated to explaining their sustainability and social responsibility commitments (Check it out here!), and an entire separate website going into more detail! (That one is here.) After some digging, I found pages on the Hershey website detailing their attempts to be earth friendly (here) and people friendly (here).
It doesn’t feel like a big deal to buy one chocolate bar over another. But as many of us have made the switch to fair trade cocoa, even Hershey is taking notice and doing things better. Every time we make the choice to spend a little more for a product with ethical and sustainable manufacturing, we make a statement about the kind of world we want to live in– one where the environment is protected and stewarded with the future in mind, and one where people are valued over profits and employees are treated with respect and compensated fairly.
Companies are created to make money, and they want you to buy their products. They are paying attention to how you spend– so spend wisely.
#VoteWithYourDollar for a better world.