Gasper is an ethical purchasing group (Gruppo di Acquisto Solidale - GAS) that was founded in 2008 in San Lorenzo district in Rome to buy food (and not only) and services according to an ethical standard. The Gasper is a self-organized organisation based on volunteer work that supports initiatives to spread responsible consumption. About 50 people are involved in it: young families with children, adults, singles, students, workers etc. Members take decisions about their initiatives in a formal meeting that is held once a month. However, they also meet up during cultural events, when there are meetings with the farmer producers and especially when there is the distribution of products which is also an occasion to eat together, cook together, exchange recipes and personal stories, and talk about the activities and organization of Gasper. The ideas, proposals and critical points are then valued at formal meetings, where decisions are made. The activities carried out are all on a volunteer basis. Each member leaves a deposit of EUR 50 for a "common fund" that sometimes has been used as a social safety net to support those who had economic difficulties so that they can acquire food products and pay back the money when they have it. This procedure also protects producers as it provides a guaranteed payment for them. Each GAS is independent and is organized in relation to the territory in which it is located, the people who join it, and the debate they develop. However, ethical purchasing groups created a network, at a city, regional and national level to gather experiences and exchange information. All ethical purchasing groups have basic principles in common: the choice of products, the quality of food and work to produce it, and also the idea of overcoming the division between producer and consumer for a model made by "co-producers”. The relationship with producers is a very important element. They organise meetings to present their organic products and explain how they work, if they have employees, where they are based, etc.. This approach helps to develop forms of cooperation between producers and buyers. In addition, producers organise farm visits for members of ethical purchasing groups so that they can see where producers live and how they work. Ethical purchasing groups develop other forms of relations thanks to the exchange of information and services, thus increasing opportunities for individual economy and developing a kind of "gift economy." They work like the practice of "time banking", in fact many needs are met through mutual trust. This also applies to job opportunities that are shared among members. Also, the economies of those who work in the farm benefit from the relationship between co-producers and producers because the choices of producers take into account the working conditions of the employees, if they have a regular employment contract, etc. Those who work for a producer connected to an ethical purchasing group know that they will not be underpaid, exploited, vilified, because this will result in his/her exclusion from the GAS circuit.
Gas can be found in all Italian cities; there are hundreds of them throughout Italy and thousands of people are involved in them. They can be replicated anywhere as long as one maintains the basic innovative and sustainable principles that characterise them: do not pollute and impoverish the environment; fight against speculation of large retailers; get a fair price for buyers and producers; facilitate direct contacts with producers, product knowledge and socialization of production chains; purchase products from natural and ecological agriculture; encourage active citizenship and social participation; contribute to the local economy; ensure fair remuneration and labour rights; give priority to small farms rather than to the large ones, to craft production rather than to the industrial one; support local economies and preserve quality of products; reduce the environmental impact.
For more details, you can read the storytelling of Gasper GAS San Lorenzo Roma in the book "Generazioni Precarie. Una conricerca tra percezione del rischio, bisogni emergenti, welfare dal basso”, that is part of “Commonfare Book Series“
Here the complete report in english
Info and contacts:
Via dei Bruzi 6, S. Lorenzo, Roma