St Monica’s College is a very special school. It is one of few schools that has dedicated Coordinators of Social Justice and Sustainability who both have generous time allowances to do their work. We are a school dedicated to making this world a better place and promoting care for creation. It is no wonder then, that we are a Fairtrade Accredited School.
As a school, Fairtrade is an enticing opportunity because it does not require fundraising. This is beneficial for three reasons. Firstly, it provides an opportunity to educate people about the fact that social justice is more about raising awareness and advocacy than fundraising. Secondly, it avoids something that many schools suffer from – charity fatigue. Thirdly, it offers students a real opportunity to make a real difference. Promoting ethical consumerism as one of the best ways students can truly make a difference is so exciting.
In my experience, the more students mature and learn about the way the world works, the more they become disenfranchised and disengaged with the system they find themselves in. The amount of poverty, famine and degradation that this world suffers from is devastating and demoralising, to say the least. There is no prospect of it improving – according to the media anyway. And what solutions are on offer? Certainly not the political system.
It is particularly evident in Australia, where Prime Minister’s changed so frequently in recent years, and is now evident globally, with the mind-boggling election of Donald Trump. It really feels like it is so difficult to make a difference and contribute in any way that will really make a difference to our world. This is why ethical consumerism is so appealing.
Explaining to our students that all they need to do to make a difference is to consider what they buy always raises eyebrows. The best way to explain this is to simply show them what I mean. There are so many amazing products out there that highlight the real difference products can make. Fairtrade certified products, Organic certified products, Fair Trade, Upcycled, Repurposed & Recycled products just to name a few. The more that we can highlight, the more intriguing it becomes.
Being able to make an impact everyday by simply altering your consumer choices is, in my view, easily one of the best ways to inspire our students. From those who will truly be the leaders of change one day, to those who will spend their lives going through the motions, I am confident that each and every student that comes through St Monica’s College will at least once, purchase something ethically because they know the impact it will have.