United World Project


IntotheLABel, the world event

23 April 2019   |   , , Y4UW

To confirm their commitment to ensuring that no one be in need any longer (“No One in Need” objective), the Youth of the Focolare Movement propose a major event post-United World Week, on 11 May 2019, called “IntotheLABel” – What is it about? We asked it to one of the format designers. 

IntotheLABel” is the name chosen by a group of young Italians for this workshop that they described as “a collective action of responsible consumption and an exercise in economic democracy“. What is it about?

Maria Gaglione, 35, a teacher of life sciences, tells us, «I am a member of the Constituent Assembly of young people of the Economy of Communion. In 2018, during the Italian event “LoppianoLab“, when we met Prof. Luigino Bruni, the international coordinator of the project, our intention was to carry out a symbolic action expressing our commitment to promote and build a more fraternal and just economy».

During that meeting, we shared our opinions, we proposed ideas, and we explored the different points of view until reaching a common awareness.

«As members of the Constituent Assembly, we have different work experiences, we have different interests…» – explains Maria – «but there is something we share: we are all citizens-consumers and we all go shopping. Then, the question arose: how can we, as consumers, give our contribution in the issues of work and inequality? We wanted to make up something that would express the concept of economic democracy».

In reference to the metaphor of the “vote your wallet” proposed by Leonardo Becchetti, economist and professor of Political Economy at Tor Vergata University in Rome, the young members of the Constituent Assembly imagine an election day, where the candidates are the products that are sold in any supermarket.

Now, let us take a step back: what does it mean to “vote by your wallet“?

Prof. Becchetti explains, «There are many things that are not included in global economy (inequalities, climate, employment…) and we cannot wait for someone to resolve them for us. Our role is not exhaustive but we can certainly lend a fundamental hand by using the power we have as citizens, consumers, and savers. We can reward the companies that are at the forefront of creating socially and environmentally sustainable economic value. If we all used this power, we would have the strength to change the existing balance of power for the benefit of the common good».

Through “IntotheLABel,” citizens become the protagonists of an experiment in economic democracy. They learn to assess, in consumer choices, not only the price or the perceived quality of the product, but also its social value. In connection, for example, with the characteristics of the supply chain, the environmental impact of production processes, the relations with suppliers, and the working conditions.

«The workshop is conceived as an “election day” in which some products are submitted as candidates to vote through their purchase, on the basis of their different “programs,” i.e. the information gathered by the young organizers and shared (in a somewhat original way!) in relation to the event. In addition, we will organize talk shows, exit pools, screenings, and election counting», describes Maria Gaglione.

The initiative has a three-fold objective:

  • Bringing people closer to the complex context behind any product, to bridge the gap between the consumer and the business choices hidden behind the product, and to generate a process of gained awareness;
  • Promoting participation. Products are presented as candidates, as in a talk show. Then, based on the information gathered, people choose their product, in a climate of collective participation. If you want culture to become a daily choice of life, you must gain awareness;
  • Mobilization. When consumers make good choices, they have an impact on companies, which in turn have the opportunity to change their policy to meet the consumers’ choices. With their choices, in fact, consumers can put pressure on companies.

In short, even between the shelves of a supermarket, irrespective to our age, we can all become change-makers!

Please write down this date: 11 May 2019.

If you want to learn more about the initiative, please visit the website of IntotheLABel.

The Youth of the Focolare Movement have also created a video that teaches how to organize an IntotheLABel.