15 Sep 2011

Make ethical shopping a hobby (The Standard)

Make ethical shopping a hobby (15/09/2011)

By courtesy of The Standard

This is not big news – I can positively stand in front of the jam aisle for half an hour trying to decide which jar to purchase. I am terrible at making the most trifling choices.

Now, Carbon Care Asia has just made my grocery shopping trips about 10 percent longer. This self-sustaining enterprise aims to make carbon management a mainstream practice at companies and institutions by launching a labeling program that gives credit to organizations which have succeed in reducing or offsetting carbon footprints.

More labels mean more decisions and longer time spent on grocery shopping. But since this is for a good cause, I will accept it.

CCA’s labels come with an administrative fee of less than HK$5,000. They are approved according to international standards of carbon neutrality, and work just like other environmental awareness initiatives around the world, such as the recognizable black footprints from Carbon Trust in Britain, though they are one of the first of their kind in Hong Kong.

What distinguishes CCA labels from the others is that they only acknowledge companies that have achieved a full carbon reduction.

Some of the factors that affect a product’s carbon footprint include the supplier’s and retailer’s location (which determines the transportation distance of the product), the choice of raw materials, production practices and anything the company has done (like planting trees) to offset carbon emissions.

We need to realize that every consumer choice we make has influences far beyond ourselves. Everything we buy and use matters – from the chemical plant that manufactures the dye for that trimming on your sleeve to the whereabouts of that water bottle you chucked into the bin weeks ago.

It all begins with small changes by you and me, and it’s time we made ethical shopping a favorite hobby. Student Gloria Yu lives life with passion and writes about it with hope.