Ethical Purchasing Groups
Ethical purchasing groups are an Italian-based system of purchasing goods collectively. These groups, known in Italian as Gruppi di Acquisto Solidale, are usually set up by a number of consumers who cooperate in order to buy food and other commonly used goods directly from producers at a price that is fair to both parties.
An ethical purchasing group does not simply aim to get the cheapest price, but puts people and the environment before profit. An ethical purchasing group chooses products and producers on the basis of respect for the environment and of solidarity between the members of the group, the traders and the producers. These criteria generally lead to the choice of local products in order to minimize the environmental impact of transport, fair-trade goods, in order to respect disadvantaged producers by promoting their human rights, and reusable or eco-compatible goods, to promote a sustainable lifestyle.
Each individual group has its own specific motivations, but most groups are rooted in a critical approach to the global economic model and consumer lifestyle; individuals who view this model as unjust and are searching for a practical alternative can find reciprocal support and advice by joining ethical purchasing groups.
Often, when a group of friends develop a tendency toward a less consumerist way of life, the idea of undertaking shared purchasing initiatives comes naturally. When the idea begins to develop into something more tangible, a fair amount of effort is needed in order to find local producers that meet the solidarity criteria; the final step is to establish an internal structure in the group in order to collect orders and redistribute the products.