A call for individuals, communities and governments to think twice about the things we use, the waste we create and our environmental impact.
It’s estimated over 2.1 million children in West Africa are employed on cocoa plantations performing backbreaking and hazardous jobs for our chocolate. Some are even trafficked to bring us this pleasure. Leviticus 25:14 - a God given commandment for us to not take advantage of others in such ways, and yet so many of us still do. Why?
Sustainable growth, consumption and production by the United Nations
+ THEOLOGICAL REFLECTION
If you sell land to any of your own people or buy land from them, do not take advantage of each other. Leviticus 25:14
In a complicated world like ours it is easy to think that it is very difficult to make a difference. The levers of power often seem remote and inaccessible to most people who, disillusioned, are often tempted to retreat into their own lives and give up on being really effective creators of change. The Bible, in no less unjust times, is very clear about the little things mattering in terms of overall justice. It speaks specifically of just wages, fair weights, honouring contracts and also, as in the verse above, integrity whether as a producer or consumer.
The way we live, eat, drink, shop, work and especially how we relate to others is important, both because it impacts personally, as well as having a cumulative effect, creating a culture. Goal 12 is about just, fair and sustainable consumption and production. Whether we are buying or selling, creating or consuming, is what we are doing, and how we are doing it, making a positive difference, both in the short and long term? As producers consider their supply chains, the environmental impact of their processes and the impact of their activities on communities, so consumers recognise the power of their purchases in legitimising, or not, all of those things. The goal focuses on two particular measures, ‘material footprint’, reflecting the amount of primary materials required to meet a countries needs, and ‘domestic material consumption’, the amount of natural resources used in economic processes. It will come as no surprise that the ‘material footprint’ of developed countries is around 63% higher than their less developed neighbours, and the ‘domestic material consumption’ figure 72% greater. The wealthy of the world use a disproportionate amount of the world’s resources in a way that is unsustainable in the long term, hence the need for change.
As Christians how should we act in the market place? How should we seek to influence that market, so that the concerns of scripture; honouring the earth, dignifying the labour of others, refusing to exploit the poor, are given priority? Many of these goals are able to give some guidance to that question, but this one in particular challenges us to think through our contribution and whether we believe we are or not, capable of effecting real change as we choose to spend and buy.
+ DISCUSSION POINTS
- Think about your clothes and food. Do you know where they really came Look at Leviticus 25, Amos 8:4-6, Ezekiel 28:15-16. What does the Bible have to say about trade, production and consumption?
- Do you ever feel like these are issues beyond your control and that you are really incapable of affecting them? How might this biblical perspective challenge that view?
- Theologian Dewi Hughes said “Since Jesus asks us as Christians to love our neighbours as ourselves, and our neighbour is any other human being with whom we come into contact, the demand to love must prevail when we shop.” What does this mean to you?
+ GOAL 12 IN ACTION
Traidcraft’s mission is to live out the Christian faith by fighting poverty through trade. It focuses on trade justice for growers and producers in some of the world’s most marginalised communities.
It achieves this through a trading company, which puts Fair Trade principles into the commercial market and provides development programmes and advocacy on international trade. ‘Respecting all people and the environment’ is one of Traidcraft’s founding principles. As part of its work towards Goal 12, Traidcraft aims to ensure that Fair Trade producers are paid fair prices and able to develop sustainable production practices for themselves and their communities.
In a competitive business world, running a sustainable business can be hard work, but Tradicraft are showing it is possible and lifting thousands from poverty in the process.
+ WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT?
Personal – Buy Fairtrade, reduce your food waste, eat more veg and less meat.
Local – Does your church use local, organic food or Fairtrade products?
International – Join #WhoMadeMyClothes?