I bought regular coffee for years. But once I began to realize how much my buying choices were really affecting the environment, and other people around the world, I switched to fair trade coffee and have never looked back. Now, I buy Newman’s Own Organic Fair Trade Coffee (if you haven’t tried it, it’s delicious!)
Here at Earth Divas, we don’t sell fair trade coffee. But, we believe strongly that buying fair trade coffee is an easy way to help change the world, so I wanted to spend just a few minutes talking about why it’s so important.
So, why should we care about fair trade coffee?
Reason #1: Let’s Stop Cutting Down the Rainforest
Regular coffee, from one of the thousands of “coffee plantations” that have cropped up in the last 30 years, heavily contributes to the deforestation of the rainforest. The reason is because today’s coffee plants were designed to thrive in full sun (which increased production).
Since coffee grows best in tropical climates, down come thousands and thousands of acres of rainforest.
The rainforest only covers around 2% of the Earth’s surface, yet it’s home to over 50% of the world’s plant and animal life.
Fair trade/shade grown coffee is grown in, you guessed it, the shade. This coffee plant loves growing under the rainforest canopy, which means no trees have to be cut down.
Reason #2: Let’s Give the Birds a Hand
Many North American songbirds spend their winters in South America. But, in addition to the native South American species, these birds’ populations have been on the decline. Why? Because of the rapid loss of their habitat due to sun coffee.
Because shade grown coffee doesn’t require any trees get cut down, the birds’ habitat is preserved. Over 150 species of birds have been observed on shade grown coffee farms.
Reason #3: Let’s the Workers a Hand
Coffee is one of the most widely traded commodities in the world, surpassed only by oil and chocolate.
You’d think the workers in such a rich field would make a ton of money. But, they’re working for slave wages, barely able to feed their families after working in backbreaking labor all day.
When you buy fair trade coffee, you’re buying coffee from a company or organization that pays its workers fair wages. They have a healthy working environment, get a fair price for their beans, and equal opportunities for women.
Individual farmers are also much better stewards of the land than the big coffee conglomerates. They don’t have the money, or the need, to buy tons of fertilizer and pesticides. Shade coffee doesn’t need these chemicals. So, most of their crops are grown organically, which is much better for the environment.
As you can see, buying fair trade coffee can make a huge difference in the lives of the farmers, the lives of local birds, and the life of the local rainforest. Yes, much of the time fair trade coffee does cost a bit more. But to me, it’s well worth it because I know I’m making a responsible choice. And, I get to enjoy my morning coffee guilt free!
Filed under: Fair Trade Coffee on March 1st, 2010