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Fair trading?

February 23rd, 2008

posted by Jess Sains

Revolutionary Rants boot

Evian. Volvic. That one that turned out to be basically Peckham Springs. All bottled waters, all brand names, all an issue this week. In Britain alone we spend some two billion pounds a year on the stuff. Stuff we can get clean and treated from our taps, in our houses. Stuff which millions of people across the world cannot get clean and treated. Or cannot get at all.

As well as the ethical issues, there are ecological ones. The transportation from A to B of a  bottle of mineral water uses up six hundred times more greenhouse gas than does your average tapped water.

So far so bad. But surely all the conveniences of our happy, shiny capitalist society have the same issues attached?

There is advert on Channel 4 this week pointing out that a UK latte costs around the same as the weekly wage of the man picking the coffee beans that go in to said latte. But I am addicted to caffeine so I try not to think about it.

I, and many of my fellow Westerners, am obese. I get to eat, without fear of the lack or intense hunger, three meals a day, enjoy a nice glass beer or scoop of ice cream when I want it. In 2006 the Food and Agriculture Organisation suggested that as much as 13% of the world’s population did not have enough food daily. Lucky old me, born in the right place.

We start wars over and continue to glug down oil here in the West. Well, I need a car to get to work or to take my kids to school.

Above all we have money. Lots of money, lots of spending power. Lots of lattes, Evian, tubs of Ben and Jerry’s and big shiny cars. I work hard, I deserve it.

So far so bad, not so much fair trade as sticking ones head deep in the sand. I am lucky, I am addicted, I need it, that’s the way things are. All excuses for a world situation that will never be fair.

Entry Filed under: Society

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