Monday, October 12, 2009

Shop Mindfully

This is our third eco-challenge. Since we'll be celebrating Me to We day on Friday we're focusing on the Free the Children campaign by getting out awareness of the ways children are employed or enslaved worldwide. The display will have info on fair trade products as well as samples of coffee and chocolates. This all fits well with Re-Think Waterloo's presentation of David Suzuki talking about what we can do to change the world this coming Saturday at Centre in the Square. There will also be many displays and the culmination of this year's 7th Generation Challenge in which local high school students try to figure out the best way to make a difference.

On Friday we'll also be showing the Me to We day speakers in the auditorium on a loop so people in MSIP classes can opt to be inspired instead of reading.

Here's some info on fair trade products:

On Chocolate:

Free Trade Chocolate

Cadbury, Nestle, Mars, Hershey’s, Toblerone... (Mars + Hershey’s = 2/3 of US chocolate)

Sold everywhere

Big companies purchase cocoa on international exchanges where cocoa from the Ivory Coast is mixed with cocoa from other countries. It’s estimated that 40% of this chocolate is from known slave plantations.

90% of Ivory Coast cacao plantations use slave labour – mostly young men and boys as young as nine from impoverished areas enticed by traffickers who promise them paid work, then sell them to plantation owners who beat them, forcing them to work 18-hour days. In 2000 it was estimated that about 15,000 children from 9 to 12 were sold to plantations that year.

Clear-cut areas of the rainforest to grow cacao trees in the sun where they yield more beans but require a huge amount of irrigation, pesticides, and fertilizers because they’re more susceptible to disease, insects, and drying. 80% of the rainforest in the Ivory Coast that has been cleared is used for cacao trees.

The mono-culture (only one kind of plant grown in a huge area) destroys the biodiversity essential for many rainforest creatures.

Fair Trade Chocolate

Cocoa Camino, La Siembra (main Canadian importer of fair trade chocolate)

Sold at 10,000 Villages and many health food stores,

Purchase directly from plantations so they can ensure labour standards are met.

Grow cacao trees in the shade, the way they prefer to grow, requiring less irrigation and no pesticides or fertilizers.

Grown under the canopy of the natural rainforest, over 23 bat species, and huge variety of birds enjoy living in the cacao trees.

Sales of organic chocolates (grown without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers) are growing by 70% each year in the U.S.

The fair trade logo guarantees that producers have divided money equitably and used environmentally sound farming methods.

On Blackspot shoes:

Blackspot is our experiment with grassroots capitalism. After spending so many years railing against the practices of megacorporations like McDonalds, Starbucks and Nike, we wanted to prove that running an ethical business is possible.

The reality is that most of us have to buy shoes on a regular basis, so we wanted to introduce an option that is socially and environmentally responsible to a market that is sorely lacking in similar convictions.

Blackspot shoes are made with hemp, recycled tires and vegan leather and produced in fair-trade or unionized factories. We sell only to independent retailers worldwide in order to cycle money back into local economies.

Blackspot is also an open-source brand, which means that it can be used by anyone for any purpose at no cost. Our hope is that people with similar philosophies will be inspired by our experiment and start their own business ventures, spreading indie culture and providing ever more alternatives to buying from megacorporations. Blackspot is about more than marketing a brand or deconstructing the meaning of cool – it's about changing the way the world does business.

Weekly Eco-Challenges to date:

1. Drive Less
2. Give a Little

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