With consumer vouchers set to be issued this weekend, environmentalists yesterday called on the public to spend the money wisely to boost the economy while protecting the environment.
“We ask people to observe the ‘three noes and three yesses,’” Green Party Taiwan Secretary-General Pan Han-sheng (潘翰聲) said.
The guideline refers to not buying anything outside of one’s routine consumption, not buying disposable products, not buying cars or gas; thinking about the environmental impact of one’s purchases, buying local products and donating to environmental causes.
“By distributing the coupons, the government is essentially putting the responsibility of balancing economic prosperity and environmental protection on individuals, just like last year, when it asked people to take off their suit jackets to conserve energy,” Pan said.
If spent on frivolous items, the NT$80 billion (US$2.4 billion) in consumer vouchers would have a significant negative impact on the environment, “leaving the repercussions to future generations,” Pan said.
Pan said that during last year’s legislative election, his party received around 50,000 votes, which translates to about NT$200 million in consumer coupons. The party’s supporters should use the money to support local businesses and boost the local economy rather than spending the coupons on luxury items thinking that they are “free,” he said.
“People should not be lured by promotions offered by retailers for items they do not need and we discourage people from buying from international chains,” Pan said.
He urged people to consider the origin of goods they purchase and to avoid buying items that may have been produced in sweatshops that exploit both workers and the environment.
Pan said the public should support local businesses, but conceded that in the world of globalization, it could be hard to buy goods that are purely “Made in Taiwan.”
However, “one category that will definitely allow consumers to spend all their money in Taiwan is organic fruits and vegetables,” he said.
If buying coffee, choose fair-trade and organic options, Pan said.
Meanwhile, the Government Information Office (GIO) yesterday launched a Web site offering information on shopping deals for the vouchers.
The Web site (http://gio.event.yahoo.net ), which will run until the end of September to coincide with the expiration date of the vouchers, will benefit the government, businesses and consumers, GIO Minister Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) said.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SHIH HSIU-CHUAN