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Essay: Fairtrade, Sustainability, Consumer Activism, Greenwashing (reflective)

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Class #1
January 8, 2019

Topic – Introduction to Fair Trade and Ethical Consumption. (Source- Instructor’s presentation in class)

• Description of the Topics: The class started with very interesting topic on “Fair Trade”. After Professor Miskiman explained some things about Fair trade what I extracted from it was that fair trade is eliminating the distributors and selling directly to the consumer. In my opinion, I had very less knowledge about it but have heard of this term several times. Basically, it is a trade that takes place in developed nations and producers are paid a fair price.
• My Thoughts: As lecture moved on I started grasping much about fair trade and ethical consumption. After listening to the point of view of each individual I got an idea about this term. The Fair trade coffee example was really interesting given by one of our peers. Now, everything started making a little bit sense. Definition given by our professor created a picture in my mind about how things work in fair trade. My opinion on fair trade is that its final goal should to uphold the conditions of the producers in the under developed countries and a fair price should be paid to producers in order to let them ear some profit, cover their expenses and costs and live a quality life. So, Fair trade practice should create long lasting relationship that can help benefit both the partiers (win-win situation). The statement that was made in class by professor that fair trade should be based on transparency, dialog and respect that provides greater equity at international level ( instructor’s presentation) was really interesting and I agree with this statement fair trade creates opportunities for better and fairer world and increase quality of life whereas in free trade multinational corporation are earning huge profits in the name of free trade.
According to me, fair trade creates sustainable environment which means it can meet people needs today without hurting the needs of people in future and basically it means to build strong economies. Fair trade creates better prices and reasonable working conditions and fair terms for farmers and workers. Moreover, Fair trade support and help small-scale farmers and workers who are treated unfairly in a variety of ways.
Professor showed us a logo for fair trade mark which has been seen at coffee shops by many of our peers is most widely known and trusted ethical label in the world. I believe that it is a logo which can been seen on those products that meet the international fair trade standards. It explains that product has been certified to offer better deals to farmer and workers those are involved in production.
What is Fairtrade? (n.d.). Retrieved from http://fairtrade.ca/en-CA/What-is-Fairtrade

Class #2
January 15, 2019

Topic- The Realms Of Sustainability- Regeneration (Source- Instructors Presentation)

• Description of the Topic- About Realms of sustainability we discussed about the role of plane, people, ethics and economics as how they are interdependent on each other and how they impact sustainability of our environment
• My Thoughts- In my opinion, sustainability development is kind of development in which need of the present are met without compromising the needs for the future generation. This definition explains that we need to look after our planet, and most importantly use our resources economically to make sure that we all live in sustainable environment and so our future generation could also live quality life. I feel that sustainability draws on politics, economics and , philosophy and other social sciences. When I hear the term sustainability I tend to think of renewable fuel sources, reducing carbon emissions, protecting environments and a way of keeping the delicate ecosystem of our planet in balance. So basically sustainability looks to protect our natural environment, ecological health, human and not compromising our way of life. These days many current practices are damaging the planet’s ecosystem. By 2050 an estimated additional 2 billion people will be living on Earth. This means food production must rise by 60%.(fao.org, 2015). In some manner that Diesel gate scandal of Volkswagen Auto group also impacted with our planet’s sustainability as it showed device emitted less emissions but in reality it did not meet the standards of US emissions norms. According to me, in the next 10-15 years, we will see an acceleration of advancements in technology, energy, computing, transportation, housing, agriculture, infrastructure, medicine, material sciences, education. Sustainability should not be only concern for the environmentalists but is it should a planetary goal in order to create a liveable future.
Brown, M. (2017, September 01). Mapping The Near Future: How To Build A Sustainable Planet. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/marshallbrown/2017/09/01/mapping-the-near-future-how-to-build-a-sustainable-planet/#5157735a2269

Class #3
January 22, 2019

Topic- Consumer Activism

• Description of the Topic- It is basically the practice undertaken on the behalf of consumers in order to assert consumer rights. I believe that group of people or NGO’s make demands or state their views about a particular cause linked directly or indirectly to a company. Maybe to boycott a certain brand or product.
• My Thoughts: These days consumers are getting smarter and wants to know how a brand produces and deliver its goods and who they align themselves with need to be clear and considered consumers to stay loyal to their brand and brand values. I was reading a blog by Emma Ferris where she gave example of consumer activism currently playing out in America. It is against one of the most over powerful brand of the country i.e. The National Rifle Association in terms to the latest tragic mass school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High school in Florida (Ferris, 2018). I believe that people are right and have done “March for our lives” movement with surviving teenage students to have a powerful medium for consumer protest. I feel that this campaign is something to be focus on gun control policies in states to prevent it from happening.
A new survey finds that 83 percent of consumer activists in the US and UK agree it is more important than ever to show support for companies that do the right thing by buying from them.(Shandwick, 2018) I believe people of US and UK want to show support for a company’s action b intentionally buying its brand , product or services and formed a new term “BUYcotting” which they think is more effective than Boycotting. I believe there is being a transformation in consumer activism as BUYcotters have taken more supportive purchase actions on average in the past two years than boycotters have taken in opposition.( Shandwick, 2018). Consumer these days are becoming smarter and wants to know whether the brand that they are loyal to is worth it? I feel that gun laws at States should have been controlled way before which would have save those innocent victims.
Consumer activism; a powerful vehicle for change. (2018, March 04). Retrieved from http://www.trulydeeply.com.au/2018/03/defining-brand-values-rise-consumer-activism/

Class #4
January 29, 2019

Topic- Playing Fair- The story of Fair Trade Footballs ( In class video)

• Description of the Topic-In this video there is a place in Sialkot in northern Pakistan where the production of soccer balls takes place. Moving on, stitchers and workers tell that how their life have been impacted over there in working in those factories and what difference fair trade has made to their lives.
• My Thoughts- Football is a lovely sport and watched and played by millions but as I heard about fair trade in terms of football I was clueless while I was hearing and watching the video professor showed us. So, many people who produce things that we enjoy and consumer aren’t paid fairly for their work and effort and so here comes the fair trade to prevent it. I agree to this statement as the one’s who are producing things like crop, cocoa, sugar, coffee, teas or anything as there are 4500 products( Fairtrade Foundation, 2016) that carry fair trade logo these days that make us feel happy and provide us energy deserves to live a quality life as well. They should be paid fairly in order to feed for their family and provide education to themselves as well as their children and most importantly paying for medication. In the video it was shown the manufacturing of football and how each worker does his work professionally in order to meet the standard for a quality football and also the demand as it increases from 40 million football to 60 million in world cup years ( Fair Trade foundation , 2016).
I feel that these workers work really hard for the manufacturing of footballs and and they deserve to be paid fairly as Pakistan’s economy is currently going through patch (Mohsin, 2018). After hearing that 5 year olds were working and stitching footballs in order to earn money and some of them were forced to work which made me feel bad. So, agreement was signed against child labour which only helped those 5 year old children to work but financial problems were still arising. In my opinion it is very wrong to let those children suffer instead they want to go to schools to have education.
I felt really good when fair trade helped those workers by providing them with clean water to prevent diseases and transportation facility. Fair trade has done a lot of good to the workers at Sialkot and helped their children to go to schools.
Foundation, F. (2016, June 10). Playing Fair – The story of Fairtrade footballs. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTrFOLLvlGs&t=60s

Class #5
February 5, 2019

Topic- Greenwashing and 6 Sins (Instructor Slides and in class notes)

• Description of the Topic- Topic that was discussed in the second half of our class was about greenwashing and was really interesting and Later on the six sins of greenwashing were also new information me to me and I am grateful to have knowledge about it.
• My Thoughts: I believe that greenwashing is the practice of making a misleading claim about the environmental benefits of a particular product, technology, service or any company practice. So, what is really does it shows a company more environmental friendly than it really is. Maybe it is done because of the competitive advantage or differentiating the products from its competitors or maybe promising efficient use of power or more cost-effective over time. There can be couple of reason why company choose to opt this direction. I feel company do this to attract customers attention on green manufacturing, recycling or energy-saving benefits.
Moving on, There are six sins of greenwashing which were discussed in class and I found that information new to me and was really worth knowing. Talking about the first sin “SIN OF THE HIDDEN PROOF” is a claim that suggest that the product provided by company is green based on narrow set of attributes without giving importance or paying attention to other environmental issues. I feel that such claims are not usually false but create a misleading picture of the product without grounds of being it environment friendly. This was the most frequently committed “sin,” made by 57% of all environmental claims examined (Makower, 2007). Moving further, other sin is “SIN OF NO PROOF” explains any claim that providing some information that should have some proper grounds from a reliable source but in reality there is no such evidence to support that information for example if you are in the business of light bulbs and you are saying that your products are more energy-efficient than any of the competitors without offering any evidence or grounds to that. Talking about another sin i.e. “SIN OF VAGUENESS” is claim of which meaning is not clear or poorly defined and likely is misunderstood by the customer for example as discussed in class about All-Natural consist of mercury, uranium and many other poisonous substances but name suggest something else i.e. Green which it isn’t in reality. Furthermore, the fourth sin is “SIN OF IRRELEVANCE” is an environmental claim that is truth but is really not important or unhelpful for consumers for example CFC- free products are not useful anymore as ozone-depletion chlorofluorocarbons have been outlawed since the late 1980s. (theozonehole, 2016). The fifth sin is “SIN OF LESSER OF TWO EVILS” is claim that may be true but the risk of distracting the consumer from the greater environmental impacts of the category as whole for example organic tobacco or green insecticides. These types of claims are very rare and less than 1% of all claims are examined. Finally, the last sin is “SIN OF FIBBING” in which claims are simply false and are misrepresented certification by an independent authority but in reality no such certification has been made. This sin is also rare and consumer today are very aware of certain issues like this. These sins really made me interested to know more about it as what we are said about a company is not true whereas they use something harmful substances. These sins are very important to be known by the public to prevent scams and clearly check the product details before buying for example If you buy the product of All-natural and it creates a picture in your mind that they use natural substances to make the product but in reality this is not the truth.
The Sins of Greenwashing: Home and Family Edition. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://sinsofgreenwashing.com

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