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Fair for plants as well as people

Pat Thomas discusses how we can meet the ever-increasing demand for herbal medicines in a sustainable and fair way.

I consume therefore I am… as the modern mantra goes.

People vary, of course, in how closely they stick to this mantra. For some the act of shopping, of consuming, of treating the world like their own private hypermarket is both thrilling and fulfilling. But the psychology – or neurosis – of the consumer society aside, there are serious environmental implications for a world where we shop with no goal other than to consume.

To combat this problem we have labels: organic, biodynamic, dolphin-friendly, cruelty-free, Fair for Life, FairWild Fairtrade, Freedom Food, Carbon Neutral, recycled (or recyclable). These labels help consumers make choices about the impact of their shopping on people and planet.

The push to turn us into ethical shoppers rather than just shoppers has been working. The ethical shopping market is growing[1] and yet surveys show that while most of us fall into the ‘shoppers with ethics’ category, most of us still don’t feel as if we have enough time to make sense of all the information[2] – or feel that the label itself is not giving us a full enough picture to help us make ethical decisions.

A former editor of the Ecologist magazine and long-term champion of health, environment and consumer rights, Pat has run campaigns for Meat-Free Monday, Compassion in World Farming and Neal’s Yard Remedies. In 2011, the campaign Cows Belong in Fields,  which she ran for Compassion in World Farming, won the Observer Ethical Award for Campaigner of the Year.

Pat is the editor of the website NYR Natural News – a campaigning natural health website and continues to write as a freelance. She is founder/director of the campaigning group Beyond GM, was inducted into Who’s Who in 2014, is a former trustee of the Soil Association and a current trustee of the Organic Research Centre. 

Website: www.howlatthemoon.org.uk 

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