Some elements of ethical consumption – such as flying in Fairtrade items from overseas – seem paradoxical. Is it worth doing, and will it help?

This article titled “How helpful is Fairtrade for the ethical consumer?” was written by Lucy Siegle, for The Observer on Saturday 30th April 2011 23.05 UTC

I love saying I don't own a car because it seems to afford me loads of hypothetical green points. But is my lack of car attributable to my desire to de-link humankind from oil, or to the fact that I don't need one, as I live near a station? I shall never tell.

What I can say is that there is now a whole load of research on the fickleness and self-interest of “eco” private-sphere behaviours. This is coupled with a trend within the green movement for denouncing “green” personal activities and choices as pernicious. The thinking is that because you buy a pair of hemp pyjamas you will feel so virtuous that you'll wear them on a long-haul flight to the Maldives – global warming be damned. But this is to credit the population at large with the collective brain of a gnu.

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