“Purchasing is a Moral Act”

The stuff we buy goes on a long journey before it ends up in our hands. This process starts with the extraction of raw materials and then advances through production, distribution, consumption, and finally disposal. This process is called a “supply chain.”

Unfortunately, the steps of this process often exploit and harm local workers, nearby communities, and the natural environment.

The Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach has produced a consumer examination focuses on the first step in this process: extraction.

“Extraction is a short-sighted model of development seen around the world that exploits natural resources on a massive scale, creating significant economic profits for the powerful few in the short term, but too often resulting in minimal benefits for the communities where these resources are found” (www.justresponse.faith).

Extraction can look like many things: coal and oil drilling; mineral mining, like gold, copper, or coltan (used in many electronic devices); large-scale cash crops, like soybeans or palm oil; commercial water bottling; and corporate-and-profit driven renewable energy projects.

The consequences of extraction can range from infringements on human rights, the displacement of people, and irreparable harm to ecosystems.

This examination will help you identify how the extraction of the raw materials needed to manufacture your purchases impacted workers, nearby communities, and the earth. It will help you imagine new ways to purchase responsibly.

Every act, including our purchases, is a moral one, as Pope Benedict XVI reminded us.

Click on the button below to download the examination. You do not need to complete this worksheet in one sitting.

NOTE: The link to the consumer examination will take you to a Google document. Because it is intended to be filled out as a worksheet, you will find it most helpful to download the document as a Microsoft Word (.docx) file so you can fill it out on your personal computer or print it.