Tour of the Ecological Consumer

A circuit on (our) consumption and

This activity was promoted by the Municipality of , Portugal, last April, with the support of Fenacoop (National Federation of Consumer Cooperatives), a member of Eurocoop, and the cooperative Pluricoop. It was inspired on the “Supermarket Tours” developed in Australia by the Ethical Consumer Group and was integrated in the project “Bio-Local – Diversity of Local Actions for Biodiversity”.

[slideshare id=4953453&doc=tourconsumidorecolgico2010-100812090825-phpapp01]

Issues such as biodiversity loss, energy and CO2 emissions, waste, ethics, animal welfare, economic and social sustainability, local production and consumption were covered in a practical way, relating them to our consumption choices. The tour consisted on a “check-in” (lecture); an “indoor tour” (inside a supermarket) and an “outdoor tour” (to a local farm).

The “check-in” lecture was presented with the help of a slide-show (at top above). Near the end, the participants were invited to choose specific themes and form small teams (see list of themes on the slide-show). They were then given written forms to be filled at specific sectors at the supermarket.

The indoor tour, inside the supermarket, enabled participants to do an oriented search of products on the shelves and become aware of the information displayed on the product packages such as certifications, or the existence – or not – of other relevant information. In the end they gathered together in an informal meeting, to share impressions and opinions.

The last part – the outdoor tour – looked more as a normal tourism tour. We left on a bus and went to the rural area, to know a local farm production of strawberries and other vegetables. The farmer, a young woman engineer, applies practices of “integrated production” which is not organic farming (unfortunately there are not yet organic farms at Moita) but nevertheless is more sustainable than conventional farming, namely because of the reduction of pesticides use. Besides this farmer sells directly to the local consumer, with personalized baskets of products delivered every week. The local products are distributed to local people, therefore keeping their freshness, reducing carbon footprint and avoiding refrigeration. The tour ended with a strawberries tasting moment.

In the end the participants evaluated the activity with very high scores, remarking it had been very pleasant and interesting.

About the Project “Bio-Local – Diversity of local action for biodiversity”

It is a project I developed at the Municipality of Moita, basically an aggregation of several awareness raising initiatives on biodiversity, at local level. The international goal “To halt biodiversity loss”, to which Portugal formally adhered, requires in fact a set of measures and urgent actions at various levels. What we eat, what we do and the way we live has direct or indirect impacts on nature and biodiversity, either on the wild or cultivated species, and along with them, impacts on the services provided by nature to humanity.

This project, developed at local level and involving civil society partners, gathers awareness actions on three themes:

  1. Local and regional biodiversity
  2. Agricultural biodiversity
  3. Biodiversity and consumption

Local and regional biodiversity

Consists mainly of a set of guided tours for school children in the municipality of Moita and surrounding region, so they learn more about the existing habitats and species and their relation with local history and development.

Agricultural biodiversity

Aims to create in schools a living arc for preservation of regional varieties and flavors in danger of disappearance, transforming the school gardens on custodians of agricultural biodiversity. Schools get practical training workshops directed for teachers and students. They get support to plant kitchen gardens and when collecting the crops, they keep part of the seeds for further plantation in next year.

Biodiversity and consumption

Includes awareness raising actions directed towards local consumers, promoting a better understanding about the sources and processing of products and its relation to nature and biodiversity. A Tour of the Ecological Consumer was developed, inspired on the “Supermarket Tours” developed in Australia by the Consumer Group.

About the author

Paula Lopes da Silva Graduated in Biology, with training in Quality and Management. Project coordinator at Quercus ANCN. Civil servant at Moita Municipality. activist, ex-board member in national and european NGOs. Also interested in good governance, transparency and accountability of NPOs. Likes history and historical recreation, drawing, cartooning and performing. Roman Catholic.

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