• Caterina Sullivan

How Retailers & Shoppers Can Contribute to the Global Goals

Updated: Nov 3, 2018



The action needed to make the Global Goals a reality is not all in the hands of governments and the most powerful corporations; ordinary retailers and shoppers can make their contribution in surprisingly simple ways.

A smaller carbon footprint for climate action

Aside from being fresher and tasting better, local produce has a far smaller carbon footprint than imports. After a recent food poisoning scandal in Australia, the affected produce was tracked back to China, where the food was packaged, and then tracked to South America, where it was grown. By stocking local produce and by choosing fresh foods in season, retailers and consumers contribute to the reduction of emissions and increase the supply of fresh, delicious and nutritious food at the store.

Another way to contribute is by reducing non-recyclable packaging. This not only reduces waste sent to landfills but also limits the pollution resulting from the production of plastics. Have you ever thought that something you bought seemed to include a ridiculous amount of packaging to be thrown away? Retailers can benefit by catering to environmentally conscious clients by choosing products that are not over-packaged. As for consumers, the more we realise that packaging can quite often be just needless waste and the more we insist on buying products with minimalistic and recyclable packaging, the more we incentivise retailers to stock these products.

Last, but not least, we should allow ourselves some luxuries, but excessive consumption depletes the earth’s resources. Before buying anything, ask yourself if you really will use it and resist the urge to grab items on an impulse. Once again, reducing air pollution and the demands you place on the world’s resources are the underlying philosophies.

Taking action on hunger and malnutrition

Does this seem like a big issue to tackle at home or in the retail store? Not really! If all the food that is wasted in homes and shops could go to the hungry, nearly everyone in the world would have enough to eat. Householders can limit food waste by planning meals carefully, and not buying excessive amounts of food that will spoil, and retailers can look for non-profit organisations that feed those in need, donating produce that has reached its sell-by date instead of dumping it.

Know how your food was produced

Life on land and at sea are important to sustainability. When one of the ecological links falters, the results can be unpredictable, and even catastrophic. Support suppliers who produce food (and other products) according to best practices. And although organic production is somewhat more costly, consider adopting pesticide and artificial fertiliser-free produce to limit both air and water pollution. Fertilisers are made by the petrochemical industry, and pesticides not only affect local food-chains but can drift into the air, affecting ecosystems far away from the site where they were applied.

Support fair trade

When buying imported products, look out for fair trade certification so that you can be sure that workers were treated fairly and paid a decent wage. Sadly, many workers in developing countries are not well-treated, and this impacts on their ability to provide a healthy diet for their families and education for their children. Be willing to pay more for reputable products. If you aren’t, you could be supporting abuses such as child labour.

Retailers: adopt a cause

There are many non-profits striving to make a difference to the world we live in. Choose one that addresses any one of the Global Goals and pledge to donate money on consumers’ behalf when they buy specific products. You will boost your corporate social responsibility profile, enhance your business’ public image, gain a marketing advantage over your competitors, and gain tax credits for your donations. You and your staff will also have the benefit of knowing you’re making a tangible difference through promoting sustainability.

This article was originally published on the Global Goals Australia Campaign website.

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Authorised by Caterina Sullivan (2018)

PO Box 6157

O'CONNOR ACT 2602

Australia