Consumer culture - where should we shop?

Updated 9:43AM, Wednesday July 18th, 2012 by Sam Hailes, Be the first to comment! seperator

There are now more obese people in the world than those who are malnourished, according to the Red Cross.

Existing for profit - Tesco is under fire

Creative commons - (c) Mark Hillary

Statistics like these are causing many Christians to re-think their shopping habits. Jo Abbess from Christian Ecology Link (CEL) believes that as Western society ups its consumption, it's costing global society as a whole.

“The way people shop for convenience food means they don’t care about it. Somewhere around 30-40% of food that is purchased is wasted, sometimes even more.”

Jo believes the supermarket model is “incredibly wasteful”. “We’re trying to encourage people to think about how they source their food,” she says.

It's a bold claim that people don't care about the food they buy, but an abundance of food does appear to have resulted in an abundence of waste.

Supermarkets and individuals have been accused of wasting food but, according to Jo, the problem goes beyond waste: “Extensive manufacture and retail causes environmental chaos. It has an effect on pollution and feeds isolated individualism. Everyone has to have their own washing machine, iPad or car.”

The response of Christians like Jo has been "why?" Why is there a need to have your own products? Why can't we share?

Over recent years there have been many fingers pointed at the big supermarkets. They’ve been accused of killing local businesses, wasting huge amounts of food and damaging the environment.

One of CEL’s projects is called LOAF which encourages people to buy local, organic, animal friendly and Fairly traded goods.

“Shopping local means you can buy locally produced goods and you’re addressing a number of issues such as supporting the local economy, encouraging low carbon and reducing energy waste,” Jo says.

While supermarkets have developed corporate responsibility documents and pledged to take the necessary care in reducing waste and trading fairly, ultimately, as Jo points out - they exist to make a profit.

Boycotting supermarkets is not something that Jo suggests. But seriously reconsidering our reliance on them, and how a different way of living could benefit people and the environment should be an idea that will resonate with many Christians in the UK.




Sam writes news, features and reviews exclusively for The job involves meeting influential and interesting Christians from across the country and beyond. Most importantly, he never talks about himself in the third person.

This article was written and published by Sam Hailes for


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