World Consumer Rights Day, which means it’s time for fair and responsible shopping

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Every year on March 15 we celebrate World Consumer Rights Day. And since we are all consumers, this is really everyone’s rights day. Unfortunately, few people know them well enough to take full advantage of them. Counterintuitively, it’s not just about the right of complaint or withdrawal. As buyers and procurers, we make decisions that affect our standard of living and the state of our wallets, but also our social, environmental and economic well-being.

World Consumer Rights Day 2024

The date of March 15 is, of course, not coincidental. It was on this day in 1962. U.S. President John F. Kennedy presented a consumer protection bill before Congress, including the rights to information, choice, security and representation. The United Nations used this foundation to create the 1985. their own guidelines and expanding the list of consumer rights to include four more: the right to basic needs, to redress, consumer education and a healthy environment. Although almost 40 years have passed, the situation is still far from ideal.

In 2024. World Consumer Rights Day is celebrated under the theme of Fair and Responsible Artificial Intelligence. With this slogan, the International Consumer Organization (CI) wants to draw attention to the abuses of misinformation, privacy violations and discrimination associated with the use of AI systems.

Water footprint and consumer rights

In the broad canon of rights we are entitled to as buyers is the aforementioned right to information. In short, we should know what the choice of a particular product entails, including in an ecological context. For a growing portion of the population, this criterion is more important than price.

EU regulations require manufacturers of household appliances, light bulbs and cars to specify the energy class of the product, so such information can be obtained from the retailer or on the packaging. But already data on their water footprint is usually unavailable. As a result, few people have a chance to make a responsible decision. And it’s not just about buying a washing machine, but also a T-shirt, a cell phone or a kilo of meat. While humans use an average of 50-100 liters of water per day for washing, drinking and flushing, it takes as much as 2,000-5,000 liters to cover their daily food needs.

It is worth knowing that:

  • The production of one car involves the consumption of up to 83,000. l of water;
  • One serving of beef has a water footprint of about 1,750 liters, while turkey has a water footprint of less than 500 liters;
  • The production of one serving of rice consumes nearly 280 liters of water, and corn consumes 140 liters;
  • A new pair of jeans is another 10,000 liters of water, a new T-shirt 2.7 thousand. l.

Shouldn’t we have the right to such information with every purchase?

Consumerism and waste – sins of the 21st century.

World Consumer Rights Day makes us reflect on buying. At the current rate of acquiring new products all the time, we will soon need two planets to satisfy this trend. In addition to the water footprint and carbon footprint, there is increasing talk about the ecological footprint, or the number ofm2 of land needed for an activity. The earth is already insufficient for us.

And the problem is not only unnecessary buying due to fashion, whims, discounts or snobbery, but also waste. Regarding this topic, 82 billioncubic meters of water are wasted globally every year! The waste also includes 344 megatons of food and 92 million tons of textile products. What part of them is unusable and what part has simply gone out of fashion?

World Consumer Rights Day as an educational opportunity

It is a mistake to assume that most of us are indifferent, and that the proverbial Kowalski is only interested in his own plate and cupboard. Environmental awareness is on the rise and a growing group of consumers are making choices for the good of the planet. Even at the expense of spending a few zlotys more and acquiring less luxurious goods.

So on World Consumer Rights Day, it’s worth loudly rebuking the right to information and education. We’re talking about honest marketing campaigns and comprehensive labeling, taking into account everything the consumer wants and needs to know. In Europe, some bathroom faucet manufacturers are already voluntarily using the water label. Consumer ombudsmen and trade inspections, meanwhile, can help in battles with the legal side of the system.

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