Alba English

Materials for Class

Example essay on Ethical Consumption.

Hand cream, body cream and soap are things that people use frequently. One important ingredient in many of these products is shea butter, which is made from a nut grown in West Africa. However, not all shea butter is produced in an ethical way. This essay first describes shea butter in detail, then looks at some problems its production causes, and outlines some possible solutions to these problems.

This paragraph describes shea butter in detail. Shea butter is a kind of fat which is made from the nut of the shea tree (“Shiabata no,” 2014). It is similar to olive oil in terms of production method and usage, but shea butter’s colour is more brown and it has a higher melting point (“A dance,” n.d.). To make the butter, the nuts are first ground with water and cooked slowly (“Shiabata no,” 2014). After that the mixture is left to cool, and finally the clean fat is skimmed, collected, and dried (“Shea butter,” n.d.). This substance has been used for centuries in West Africa - made only by women, it is related with the history and culture of the area (“Shea butter history,” n.d.) and is difficult to produce because the colour and flavour can change depending on when the nuts are picked (“Shea butter,” n.d.). Around 1.8 million tons of raw Shea nuts are produced every year, with 87kg of seeds producing 28kg of butter (“Ekomamu,” 2014). The next paragraph looks at some issues caused by shea butter production.

There are three problems that shea butter production causes - poverty, lack of child education, and loss of trees. The first problem is poverty. Developed countries buy shea butter at too low a cost for farmers to have a stable income (“Shea butter,” n.d.). For this reason, people sometimes make enough money, but sometimes experience poverty and issues caused by poverty (“Ekomamu,” 2014). The second problem is lack of child education. Due to a the lack of money, children sometimes have to work making shea butter rather than go to school (“Nigeria Ghana,” 2005). As a result, many of them cannot read or write, as situation which can lead to problems arranging export, negotiating, and getting information (“Burkina Faso,” n.d.). The third problem is loss of trees. Some people cut down the shea trees in order to make charcoal, which is sold as a commodity, and people can get income quickly (“Charity – shea dream,” 2012). However, the trees take a very long time to grow again, and until then people cannot make the butter (“Charity – shea dream,” 2012). In summary, there are three main problems - poverty, lack of child education, and loss of trees - of which the most serious is lack of child education. However, the next paragraph examines some answers to these issues.

There are three possible solutions to the issues outlined above – the work of JICA, the support of Intiraymi, and the purchase of Fair Trade goods. The first solution is the work of JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency), which encourages international cooperation with developing countries (“Case 2: Ghana,” n.d.). Not only do they lead projects to support production of shea butter by a womens’ group, in 2007 they created a leaflet about shea butter production to spread awareness of the issues in Japan (“Case 2: Ghana,” n.d.). However, a survey in 2009 showed that many people still do not even know what shea butter is, so this leaflet was not very succesful (“Case 2: Ghana,” n.d.). The second solution is the support of Intiraymi, which is a social contribution platform (“Tnpinn,” n.d.). This group sims to improve child education by supporting the ability of shea butter producers to earn education expenses, by creating schools, and by hiring teachers (“Tnpinn,” n.d.). However, the impact is not clear, as no research has been done on the number of jobs created, and the number of children who are actually attending the schools is low (“Tnpinn,”n.d.). The third solution is the purchase of Fair Trade goods. Fair Trade guarantees that butter is sells is bought from farmers at a fair price, and makes sure that the butter is made in a sustainable way, without child labour (“Fair Trade,” 2007). However, while many companies use Fair Trade shea butter, for example Kokoro Cosme, and Mother Earth, awareness is low and only a small percentage of shea butter produced is Fair Trade (“Fair trade toha?” n.d.). Also, there is a chance that, as with coffee, the extra money people pay for Fair Trade does not get to the local people (Griffiths, 2007). In summary, there are three possible solutions - the work of JICA, the support of Intiraymi, and the purchase of Fair Trade goods - of which the most effective seems to be the work of Intiraymi.

In conclusion, this essay described shea butter in detail, then outlined some issues its production causes, and examined some possible answers to those issues. In summary, shea butter production causes three problems - poverty, lack of education and loss of the trees themselves - of which the most serious is poverty. However, there are three possible solutions - the work of JICA, Intiraymi, and campaigns to promote Free Trade Shea butter - of which only the work of Intiraymi is really effective. As such, university students wanting to help should donate to Intiraymi, and write a letter to their favourite cosmetics shop asking for them to stock Fair Trade shea butter goods.


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Case 2: Ghana. (n.d.). JICA. Retrieved November 19, 2014, from

Charity – shea dream. (2012). Shea Dream.

Ekomamu zissen [Ekomamu practice]. (2014). Nikkei Business.

Fair trade toha? [What is Fair Trade?]. (2007). Wakachiai.

Nigeria Ghana no shea butter tyousahoukokusyo [Nigeria-Ghana shea butter investigation report]. (2005). JETRO.

Olive [olive]. (n.d.). Fruitia. Retrieved November 19, 2014, from

Olive oil no miryoku [The appeal of olive oil]. (2014). GurumeGurume.

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Shea butter. (n.d). Mountain Rose Herbs. Retrieved November 3, 2014, from

Shea butter. (2006). Mother Earth.

Shea butter history. (n.d). Agbang Kurite. Retrieved November 3, 2014, from

Shea butter ni tsuite [About Shea butter]. (n.d.). Africa Kobo. Retrieved November 3, 2014, from

Shiabata no shuseibun to kouka [Shea butter’s principal component and the effect]. (2014). Shea Butter Sora.

Tnpinn inteliraimi [Single item ineliraymi]. (2013). Intiraymi.