Where stuff comes from – why I’m interested . . .

My name is Sue Phillips, and I’m interested in where stuff comes from. In particular, I want to understand if the choices I make matter, and why they matter.

As an accountant I believe the ‘bottom line’ is important; we all want value for money. But I question how we assess value, and how we measure what matters. Increasingly, I wonder if we all need to be paying much more attention to the social and environmental impact of what we do.

Many goods and services are marketed as ethical, fair-trade, organic, eco-friendly, or similar. I’m interested in the extent to which such claims withstand scrutiny and whether the average person (like myself) can verify them.

I’m aware that the cost of items marketed in this way can place them beyond the financial means of many people. But I also worry about the impact of measures to secure lower prices, including low wages and job insecurity arising from practices such as zero hours contracts. So I wonder whether buying with an awareness of the social and environmental impact of our consumer choices makes it just a little more likely that a few more people will earn a reasonable livelihood doing decent meaningful work?

I’m aiming to explore and present complex issues in an understandable and informative way, whilst trying to avoid stating the obvious. But this is not ‘research’ as such; I’m not engaging in an academic exercise and I’m not neutral in my starting assumptions. Politically I lean towards the left and I take a green perspective. But I’m prepared to have my assumptions challenged, inevitably to make some mistakes along the way, and to modify my choices as I discover more about where stuff comes from.