Anup Shah (2005) states, The real issue is not consumption itself but its patterns and effects. Explain this statement (i.e., examine the impact of consumer choice) by creating a case study of a consumer item. Consider a consumer purchase that you have made in the past week (a cup of Starbucks coffee) and investigate the patterns and effects; of choosing this commodity. You may find the following questions are a useful guide:
* Environment: Did this product contribute to pollution or draw excessively on non-renewable resources? (Consider such things as transportation and packaging as well as production.)
* Economics: Did the producers get a decent return for their labour? Who is profiting and who is losing out? What is the effect on the external debt situation? Does the business follow a code of corporate social responsibility?
* Social: Does it involve child labour? Gender discrimination? In what ways has advertising/promotion prompted you to purchase this particular product? Has advertising the product undermined social or cultural patterns or altered lifestyles? Has production of the product changed patterns of life and culture? Does the product enhance the quality of life for the purchaser? Is it a necessity or a luxury item?
* Legal: Does the company producing and/or selling the product respect environmental laws, trade union rights, etc.?
* Health: Does the product damage your health? Has its production affected the health of workers?
* Information sources: As you investigate the above questions, consider your sources! Who owns the information source you may be visiting? What vested interests may underlie their message? How can you confirm the truth of what you are reading?
Example Case Study of tobacco, sugar, beef and bananas at: http://www.globalissues.org/TradeRelated/Consumption.asp [REFER TO THESE EXAMPLES AND MAKE IT EVEN BETTER! :)]
Personal instructions: Please use an organized structure for this case study by having, for example, environmental effects in one or two paragraphs and then another one or two paragraphs for economic effects. Also, have them flow in a logical order so that a paragraph about health does not come right after economics unless they are related to each other.