LIFESTYLE

Want To Shop Ethically? Buy South African.

Want to be an ethical consumer? It's as simple as buying locally.

19/04/2017 19:58 SAST | Updated 26/04/2017 14:37 SAST



Entice. Seduce. Sell. Buy. Discard. Repeat. A simple formula, but an effective one.

Rarely do we stop to consider the human cost behind the manufacture of that to-die-for-dress, or the decimation of environmental resources that took place just so you could sip on that ice-cold sugary soft drink.

What, then, are we the locust-like consuming masses to do?

For proponents of the 'vote with your wallet' philosophy, the answer is elementary: buy South African.

"If we take decisions that we would prefer products that are locally made, we are saying that we will support the enterprises that are actually producing those products in our own economy and that we are creating jobs -- or at least, sustaining jobs -- for people who are active in our own economy," said Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies, during his address at the sixth annual Buy Local Summit Expo, held earlier this month.

To break it down into bottom line figures, an economic impact study conducted by Pan African Research Services in 2012 found that an investment of just R1 in local manufacturing resulted in a R1.13 increase in gross domestic product, an increase of R0.13 in export receipts and R0.35 in fiscal revenue. (A follow-up study is in the process of being finalised, for more up-to-date statistics.)

Job creation: tick; contributing to the local economy -- tick.

But more importantly, it means ethical production conditions for your goods. Made in South Africa means complying with our stringent labour laws. As Eustace Mashimbye, C.E.O. of Proudly South African explains:

"The provisions of the (South African) Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) focus on specific labour related issues, such as working hours, overtime, leave days and applicable remuneration... Our concern is to make sure companies that manufacture local products, do so using a workforce that is treated fairly, as prescribed by the law."

Any commodity deemed to be "made in South Africa" has to have at least 50% of its production costs incurred on home soil with "substantial transformation of any imported material".

Similarly, in order for any company to warrant being able to fly the Proudly South African flag, said corporation "should demonstrate that they implement sound environmental practices in the course of doing business, including recycling, disposing of waste responsibly, carbon footprint reduction, as well as other practices aimed at preserving the environment which might be prescribed for specific sectors".

Conversely, South African laws have little-to-no jurisdiction over environmental protocols and working conditions governing merchandise manufactured beyond our borders.

Despite recent research figures indicating that as many as 46% of South Africans said they were willing to support local trade and industry, people inclined to tighten their purse strings may very well counter that locally made products tend to be more expensive than those procured from international supply chains.

That's to be expected, considering workers have to be paid fair wages.

The aforementioned to-die-for dress may use cotton picked by a child forced into labour and spun by a worker in a factory with inhuman conditions, both of whom could be paid as much as 75% below the global standard minimum wage.

As our very own fashion designer wizard, David Tlale, also pointed out during the Buy Local Summit Expo: "It's time that we as South Africans start believing in the excellence we have and being very much proud of the resources that we have."

And if doing so ensures we help support fair labour and environmentally friendly policies in the process, all the more reason local is, in fact, lekker.