Abstract Various environmental and social issues are associated with the production, manufacturing, processing, and marketing procedures of many products. In order to support environmentally and socially ethical practices consumer values must change. Consumers must be educated and act in support of ethically made products. Education of consumers must begin with realizing the overall complexity of the entire production system -- where the raw materials come from, where they are assembled, under what conditions they are assembled, and many other factors. As many products are made far from where they are purchased, their social and environmental effects are often unseen and unevaluated. Therefore, when considering the sustainability of purchasing practices, an emphasis on the importance of buying locally is needed.
We used the University of Waterloo Bookstore's Stationary Department as a model for examining this issue. We conducted a survey which indicated that 54% of the bookstore's customers were willing to buy Canadian products. However, it also indicated a need for education on the importance of responsible purchasing. As a result, we are educating the UW Community on the importance of educated purchasing practices which reinforce notions of sustainability.
We recommend that the issue of responsible purchasing be addressed in UW policies. As well, we recommend that the bookstore attempt to educate its customers on responsible purchasing through emphasizing environmentally and socially sound products and suppliers. Finally, we suggest that the UW Bookstore make consumer guides, such as Shopping for a Better World, available for their customers.
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Last updated: September 30, 1996