Is shopping the new politics?

Jiva Masheder is a guest blogger and the views expressed herein are her own and do not necessarily represent the views of Shared Interest Society.

Jiva is a passionate fair trade activist currently living in Brighton. She is the founder of Jiva Fair Trading, an online store that specializes in fair trade and environmentally friendly accessories. If you would like to be a guest blogger, please contact us with your interest.

Many people, predictably, year on year, decry how Christmas has become so commercial, lost its spiritual meaning. Yet these days, while not finding meaning in our lives from the Church, many of us have adopted more humanist values and can still find meaning in our lives from helping others. Fair Trade and ethical investment are prime examples of doing just that.

Shopping choices may not change the world, but buying Fair Trade certainly improves the lives of those who supply Fair Trade business. They receive a fair price, are not victimised by unfair buying policies, work in safer conditions and receive a social premium to spend on community welfare; often it goes on basic health and education provision that we have long taken for granted in more affluent countries. Much as people complain about the NHS, it is a phenomenal service compared with the health-care available in most of the developing world; this has struck me many times returning from India to this country.

Is shopping the new politics? No, but it can definitely help. It is easy with the enormity of social and environmental problems around us to feel overwhelmed by it all – as I also do at times – and the natural response is to shut down and turn away. But buying Fair Trade is making a positive difference; if we do nothing else to help others, we can remember that each Fair Trade item we buy has enhanced the life of the person who made it, and their community around them too.

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Mexican coffee farmer at work in the fields

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