Jess Worth for the New Internationalist Co-operative
From this month’s editor
‘Irony officially died when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize , but it twitches back to life with alarming frequency.’ Th is is how Ian Nixon (no relation to Kissinger’s former boss), who designed this magazine, reacted to my discovery that you can actually get ‘ethical’ bullets. In fact, British arms manufacturer BAE Systems are not just providing the world with lead-free eco-bullets (because ‘lead used in ammunition can harm the environment and pose a risk to people’). Th ey are in fact developing a whole range of ‘green’ munitions, from quieter warheads (to reduce noise pollution), smokefree hand grenades, and armoured vehicles with hybrid engines. You couldn’t make this stuﬀ up… Th ere’s a certain twisted logic to it. As BAE’s Director of Corporate Social Responsibility explains: ‘Weapons are going to be used and when they are, we try to make them as safe for the user as possible, to limit the collateral damage and impact as little as possible on the environment.’ Th e problem, of course, is you can make your weapons as ethical as you like; but they’re still designed to kill people. Th ere’s nothing wrong with trying to minimize the negative impacts of your behaviour on the planet – we all have a responsibility to do that. But if something exists to cause death and destruction, the fact that it’s been painted a friendly shade of green doesn’t make it ok. Shopping ethically is important. But it has very real limitations. Th ere are no magic bullets, and if we don’t face up to this, our planet’s going to bite the dust in a hail of environmentally friendly ﬁ re.
2 Buy now, pay later Ethical consumerism may be all the rage, but it won’t save the planet, argues Jess Worth.
6 Stopping the Shopocalypse Words of anti-consumerist wisdom from the Church of Stop Shopping’s Reverend Billy.
7 Fair enough? Fair trade risks losing its soul to big business. Albert Tucker wants you to join the ﬁ ghtback.
10 Don’t believe the hypermarket Supermarkets haven’t seen the error of their unsustainable ways, reveals Sarah Irving.
12 21st century consumers What brand of buyer are you?
14 Sweating over sweatshops Mark Engler explains why ‘clean clothes’ campaigning is no longer about boycotting Gap.
16 Punk rock capitalism? You can eliminate AIDS in Africa using an American Express credit card according to Product (RED)’s Tamsin Smith and Sheila Roche. Not everyone is convinced.
18 Consumption – THE FACTS
18 Consumption – THE FACTS
20 How to be an ethical consumer Info and action ideas.
22 Currents 25 Worldbeaters 26 Mixed Media 28 Southern Exposure 29 View from Montevideo 30 Essay 32 Big Bad World + NI Prize Crossword 33 Making Waves 34 Letters 35 Letter from Mauritius 36 Country Profile – Thailand
Front Cover image: Tom Worth. Magazine designed by Ian Nixon. All monetary values are expressed in US dollars unless otherwise noted.