When you buy, buy sustainably

Human activity has already had a considerable impact on the climate. When we talk about climate change, we often hear the same arguments. I have listed some of the arguments I have personally come across below. What do you think about my thoughts on these?

 I don’t need to change my habits, climate change won’t affect me 

Climate change isn’t fair: the farmers of the Global South will be in the front line. Small farmers will often suffer the most from climate change, even though their carbon footprint is tiny. Many farming families and communities have already had to get used to the effects of climate change. In Africa, climate change affects the lives of farmers particularly through droughts. Meanwhile in the Caribbean and Latin America, the climate is hotter and more humid than before, which has made plant diseases that destroy harvests more common. 

Climate change can cause coffee and other familiar products to become rarer on the shelves of our shops. Coffee trees are sensitive to changes in temperature, and the incomes of millions of coffee farmers have already been affected by climate change. According to estimates, climate change will have reduced the area suitable for growing coffee by half by 2050. Suddenly this affects me, too. 

There are so few people in Finland, it doesn’t matter what we do 

It sure does. Before we can buy things, someone has to make them. In order to manufacture products, factories need electricity and fuel, which means that they produce emissions. The richest tenth of the world’s population, which many Finns are part of, produces more than half of all the emissions in the world.  

So the shopping habits of Finns have a huge impact on global emissions. It is climate smart to only buy the things you need, choose products that have been produced in a sustainable way for both people and the climate, use the things you buy for as long as possible, have your broken things fixed, and give or sell things to others when you no longer need them. 

How could it possibly reduce the impact of climate change to buy certified products? 

Many certified products do not only promote workers’ rights, but they also slow down climate change. For example Fairtrade Finland supports communities who are living with the worst effects of climate change right now. One of the most important things in terms of the climate is to sort out producers’ livelihoods: if farmers don’t earn enough to live on, they don’t have the resources to invest in climate and environmental actions. The Fairtrade criteria are also increasingly emphasising cultivation methods that are more sustainable for the climate and for people.

It is obvious that the voices of small farmers must be heard if we want to find a solution to the climate crisis. For example Fairtrade International and the producer networks of Fairtrade Finland have regularly taken part in the conferences of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

I can’t do anything about it

As the recent IPCC climate report shows, we can all make a difference. The future is still in our hands, but every action has an impact. So make sure to put products that are sustainable for people and the climate in your shopping baskets both in shops and online. Even though it might not feel like much, these easy, little actions have a huge impact


Jatta Makkula
Specialist, Fairtrade Finland universities 


As part of our project we are publishing a series of blog posts on this topic. The project Sustainability holds us up, uphold sustainability, organised by The National Union of University Students in Finland (SYL) and eight student unions, encourages students to consider the effects of our consumer habits and introduces the UN’s sustainable development goals.

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