Directions (1-5): Read the following passage carefully and answer the questions given below it. Certain words have been printed in bold to help you locate them, while answering some of the questions.
In some ways we already do: every time we spend our cash we are making an active choice about the companies we support and the practices we endorse. Today, when corporations can be more influential than entire states, where we put our pounds is where the power lies. The problem is, so it is difficult to confidently make an informed choice. Consider this: the retail manufacturing industry is the second most polluting industry on earth, second only to oil. According to Annie Leonard, an expert in overconsumption, only 1% of the materials used to produce our consumer goods are still in use six months after sale. Somewhere, the value of craftsmanship and of provenance has been lost. Price and speed are trumping value. However, the tide is turning. Increasing awareness around these issues has led to a rise in what is known as conscious consumption, a movement of people who seek out ways to make positive decisions about what to buy and look for a solution to the negative impact consumerism is having on our world.
This is a growing tribe: a third of UK consumers claim to be very concerned about issues regarding the origin of products. A study from YouGov and the Global Poverty Project revealed that 74% of those surveyed would pay an extra 5% for their clothes if there was a guarantee workers were being paid fairly and working in safe conditions. If you’re thinking that 5% doesn’t sound like a lot, consider the fact that the fashion industry could take a staggering 125 million people out of poverty by adding only 1% of its profits to workers’ wages. Issues such as equal pay, environmentally conscious manufacturing processes, prevention of counterfeit goods, human trafficking, responsible farming practices and overproduction of goods are all at the forefront of consumers’ minds when making these choices. In an increasingly open, digital world where authenticity is the buzzword of choice, businesses must keep up with growing demands for ethical behaviour and transparency in everything from employee rights and gender discrimination to the supply chain.
In studying for my PhD, I researched product supply chain transparency in depth, looking at technologies to improve information about products and the global network of people and resources that fuel them. I believe technology is the key to dealing with the challenges created by consumerism. Open data, social networks and mobile tech can change the game. Groundbreaking technologies could enable transparency in supply chains, which is why this year I have __(I)___on turning my findings into a social enterprise to empower businesses to take steps to being open.