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Good Consumption Benefits Everybody

A university student who went to the famous coffee shop ‘Starbucks’ found out that the coffee beans which Starbucks uses are a ‘Good consumption’ of Starbucks through fair trade. When she discovered this she made herself a promise to come to Starbucks more often. As you can see from this anecdote, there are a number of fair trade goods you can encounter in your everyday life, with products such as chocolates and coffee beans. With this current situation, ‘Good consumption,’ catches the eyes of consumers even though economic crises have been felt all over in our society for a few years.

Good consumption is a behavior to consume products for the sake of promoting public interest, such as buying the goods from fair trade, and through Good consumption, a consumer can do a meaningful work through the act of shopping, which is a step forward from the rational consumption, which is consuming the products of the lowest price. Good consumption takes the result of the consumer’s choice of buying the Good consumption product into consideration, and puts the ethical aspect of consumption in daily life. Also ‘Good consumption’ is a part of the green consumer movement, which includes fair trade, so that we buy products which do no damage to the environment, human beings and ecosystems.
In 1997 the Fair Trade Labeling Organization International (FLO) was established and started the fair trade certification system. In 1994, there were only three products which earned the fair trade certification, but currently there are more than three thousand fair trade certified products. There are indicators which show the growth and attention on the Good consumption and fare trade. Not only the skyrocketing numbers of the fair trade certified products, but the 78% of the domestic consumers answer the questionnaire of the Federation of Korean Industries by responding that they are willing to buy the products of the companies which contribute well to society. The companies do their own ‘Good consumption’ through the fair trade with ’Third world’ countries, so as not to exploit the producers of the raw materials for their industries, but to pay them a fair price for the products, and this behavior can help the producers of the developing countries to be financially independent. For instance, Starbucks is doing fair trade on the 86% of the coffee beans they purchase.

There are three ways of ‘Good consumption,’ and the first is preserving environment. ‘Comvita,’ the eco-friendly cosmetics of New Zealand considers the environment, thus they use papers and vegetable ink which has earned them the certification from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Also in New Zealand, ‘Comvita’ plants the manuca trees in valleys with children every November as a part of their BBTK (Bees, Birds, Kids, Trees) campaign, which shows the importance of the natural environment. In Korea, ‘Amorepacific’ is continuously preceding the ‘Beautiful consumption,’ which contributes to the environment and society by using safe raw materials, preserving the environment, and contributing to local communities. For example, ‘Amorepacific’ and ‘Dongbaek village’ concluded an agreement to buy camellia flowers and fruits at a ‘fair price’ as the raw material for the products of ‘Amorepacific.’ Also they are paying attention to low-carbon green management. They cooperate to ‘carbon labeling,’ which indicates the background of greenhouse gas emissions, while doing ‘green partnership’ managements which helps the cooperative firms’ eco-friendly low-carbon management.

Second is donating. ‘TOMS’ shoes lead people for their ‘Good consumption’ by donating a pair of shoes to children in need when a consumer purchases a pair of shoes, thus the consumers can donate for others while consuming awesome products for themselves. Blake, the founder of ‘TOMS,’ started the ‘One for One’ donation to help the children continuously, who he met during his trip to Argentina, and who could not even afford a pair of shoes.

‘Minewater,’ a mineral water from ‘CJ,’ started the ‘BARCODROP,’ campaign. According to the interview with the person in charge of the campaign, if a consumer decides to donate 100 won, he or she could ask the cashier to scan the extra water drop-shaped barcode. When the consumer donates 100 won, ‘CJ’ and ‘Familymart’ will each donate 100 won, thus total of 300 won will be donated to 300 African children who are in need of clean water, through UNICEF (the United Nations Children’s Fund). Despite more expensive prices compared to other mineral waters, the sale of ‘Minewater’ has increased over three times.

The last is considering the environment and participating in donations at the same time. ‘The House of Mali’ is selling earphones and headsets made out of recycled material, and all of the packaging of the products is done with recycled paper. Also they donate the 5% of their profit on 1love.org. 

In conclusion, through ‘Good consumption,’ consumers can help somebody of something even though they do not participate in person. If a person purchases the products of the donating company, the daily behavior of consuming can lead to donations for people in need, the consumers can participate in the act of donations on a daily basis. Also, if they buy the products, which are made up of recycled products, they can participate in the act of reducing green house gases and saving the environment. Even though people may pay a little bit higher price for products, ‘Good consumption’ is beneficial to producers who can get fair prices, companies who can earn a good image for their good acts, consumers who can buy good products, and the environment can be saved. Let’s all participate in ‘Good consumption.’

Lim Su-mi  chloe90@dongguk.edu

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