The Shy Activist- “When people eat chocolate, they are eating my flesh.”

I’ve already highlighted some of the issues that are connected with the chocolate industry in previous blog posts including child labour, milk production and palm oil. 

I suppose this is a post to highlight the issues we face with this product which is a staple and an addiction for many of us.

It isn’t a surprise considering the state of the industry that child labour and unfair treatment of workers is prevalent in cocoa farming. Cocoa is mainly grown in Ivory Coast, Ghana and Latin America where farmers are paid $2 per day. You don’t need a huge imagination to think what workers get paid. In fact research suggests children are imprisoned on farms after thy look for work or their relatives sell them to farm owners.

These farms supply the biggest chocolate companies including Mars, Hershey and Nestle. These three companies are in the top 10 leading confectioners in the world. I just will never understand capitalism and the concept of being mega rich but not paying your workers enough to live, if anything. If we buy a bar of chocolate which is now around 60p we’ve already used almost half of a farmers daily wage.

The confectioners hide behind the layers of industry, the government, chocolate dealers and farmers, in their bid to stay ignorant. Food Empower Project have written a lot about the issues in the chocolate industry and you can read it here. They have highlighted that although some confectioners certify that they are fair trade and do not allow child labour undercover investigation has found this to be greenwashing. Companies are slow to make changes to ensure that workers are treated with dignity.

If you want to make sure that your money is going to people who deserve it here’s a list that the Food Empowerment Project put together based on companies they recommend to least recommend. The list is extensive and it includes the following that I can recommend in taste. I am REALLY fussy about chocolate because I sadly am a chocoholic.

  • Vego- My favourite
  • Coop brand
  • Divine
  • Montezuma
  • Plamil 

The good shopping guide also made a list based on environmental impact, animal welfare, political donations and many other factors. Read it here. The only company to get a score of 100 is the seed and bean company which I have yet to try, but I will make sure to!

FAIR FAVOURITES- FOUNDLING

“For something to be truly beautiful, it has to be beautiful inside & out..so we set about finding a team of ethical manufacturing partners around the globe. With children & families of our own…ethical production was the only way to go!  Our clothing range is made by a sedex accredited, government regulated business in India – an assurance that people are not being taken advantage of & that they are entitled to the working conditions which most of us just take for granted.”

la cirque trapeze tunic bleu

darjeeling kimono

byzantine nightingale earrings gold

trinidad button down maxi dress

Sources and further reading

https://www.statista.com/statistics/252097/net-sales-of-the-leading-10-confectionery-companies-worldwide/

http://www.foodispower.org/slavery-chocolate/

http://grist.org/food/a-guide-to-ethical-chocolate/

https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2017/02/the-truth-behind-the-chocolate-industry-will-leave.html

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/how-ethical-is-your-chocolate/

The Shy Activist- Assignment: Earth

Happy Earth Day!

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Every year this day serves as a reminder of our responsibility as stewards of the planet. 

Why should we care about the state of the environment? Because it is important for our own personal well being and our great great grandchildren’s well being. Earth is our home and we should treat is as we would our own four walls. 

I’ve compiled tips that can be used in everyday life from the moment you read this post. 

Start your New Earth Year resolutions now!

Buy locally-grown produce to reduce your carbon footprint. Find your local farmers market or farm and support their sustainable business. You’ll be giving your money to a good business and be part of a bigger change.

Walk to work- Walking to work isn’t only good for the environment. It’s good for mental health as well as physical well being. We generally spend too much time away from natural light and those at desk jobs spend too much time sitting down! I find that walking to and from work is an easy way to add some exercise to your lifestyle. 

And ask Elle Woods explains:

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Stop using disposable plastic

Bottled water- Drink tap water and if you feel it might not be safe then get a filtered bottle. A bobble is an affordable sustainably made reusable bottle and the filter needs to be replaced every 2 to 3 months. 

Plastic bags- Use. Reusable. Bags.

Microbeads- Ensure that your beauty products don’t have microbeads which go down our sinkholes into our land and sea.

Eat less meat- If you read our last post you’ll know that meat production accounts for a large proportion of greenhouse gases. “Producing one calorie of meat requires nearly twenty times the amount of energy as one plant calorie!”

Support environmentally friendly fashion- Stop relying on fast fashion and have faith in sweatshops and ethical brands! Next time you feel the shopping urge or need something new check out the many fair favourites we have featured or just google it!

FAIR FAVOURITES- KOMODO

“Komodo has been a pioneer brand, promoting the use and development of Organic Cotton, Hemp, Bamboo, Tencel and other natural fibres since the early 90s. Equally important was the welfare of the suppliers and people who work in the small factory units that make our clothes. There needs to be loyalty and respect to make a good deal for all and we still visit our factories for at least 2 months+ each year to ensure that any problems are solved together.”

JUNA Trousers

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FLYNNI Tencel Denim Dress

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JUNA Trousers

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HERRINGBONE Orange Organic Cotton Socks

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Sources and further reading

http://www.ndtv.com/offbeat/11-earth-day-tips-to-make-our-planet-a-better-place-1684608

http://time.com/money/3828566/earth-day-tips-environment-save-money/

http://www.earthday.org/campaigns/

http://ecoadmirer.com/6-reasons-you-should-care-about-our-environment/

Soomaiya Syeda- Child Exploitation VS Child Labour

Child labour is always exploitative…or is it. I want to explore why sometimes it isn’t considered exploitative.

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It seems obvious. If children work they miss out on a lot of things we consider to be vital; educational, physical, social and mental growth. As consumers are becoming more and more conscious about what bad business practices they are funding, calls for child labour to end have increased over the last few decades.

Most recent action against child labour was taken by Apple who discovered that their cobalt supplier Huayou employed children and suspended their operation. The Netherlands made human rights due diligence for the first time to cut child labour. They will be looking at suppliers and ensuring there is no human rights violation further down the supply chain.

Whilst it is a welcomed change that capitalist corporations are now trying to run their businesses more ethically, it does feel a little like greenwashing the situation. Greenwashing is when a company appears to be more ‘green’ but fails to truly minimise the environmental impact. In this instance it would be to understand why children have to work, rather than just cutting off their only source of income.

Child labour in the UK was reduced in 1880 with the Education Act which made education compulsory for children up to the age of 10. This age was raised to 15 in 1944, 16 in 1973 and then 17 in 2013. So the UK’s stance on education has dramatically changed only very recently. The policy that someone must be educated until 16 years of age is younger than my mum!

As the UK, a 1st world country, is still trying to understand what the best age to be educated until is, we have to consider that this is not going to be what is best for children in other countries.

We all know the history of colonisation and the whitewashing of cultures all over the world. This could be described as a way of whitewashing and greenwashing cultures that need us to understand them in order to better help, rather than forcing them to become like us, which could lead to more hardship.

In an interesting podcast the Guardian held with various people including those who work in charities, previous child workers (now adults) and government workers, child labour is explored in a different way. We see how child labour is an important role within a family. As a part of the family children must contribute to the wellbeing of the everyone. They may even work for their family business, or as described by an ex child worker, sell “jellies, I worked on mini vans opening the doors, charging the clients. Also in construction, I carried bricks, washed dishes, all kinds of work [that] I could find.” I can’t imagine that if a child’s income is vital to the family’s essential needs, they’ll have much chance of being able to afford an education. Therefore banning child labour could potentially lead to worse outcomes.

There is also line between child exploitation and child labour here. Another interviewee explains that the difference lies in the type of work for example child prostitution vs child labour in the ways mentioned before.

In 2013 Bolivia revised the code protecting the rights of children and adolescents to raise the age of children working to 14. This caused children to protest because this directly affected their livelihood and the government had to reduce to the age to 10.

This says a lot about the priorities of people in Bolivia, whether children or adults. They may agree that education is the best way forward for future generations so that they can avoid the hard work and physical toil, and increase chances of making better a better living. But this isn’t a reality that can be implemented today or even tomorrow.

In India educational policies have increased child literacy however children are increasingly dropping out of school to work for their families.

30% of people in India live below the poverty line and they have no contingency plans of what happens in cases of illness, poverty, death or other unexpected costs. As a debt adviser in East London I see the way unemployed and employed people in the UK have no contingency plans and are living day to day. I see clients who live on food bank vouchers or regularly have to borrow from friends and family. The difference is if they are capable to seek advice there is help out there in the form of debt and money advice charity services. Just living day to day becomes a job in itself.

Child exploitation is unacceptable but I am weary of trying to change a country/cultures social system by just suspended our operations. Although it is a good way to send the message to the company, the corporations should use their economic leverage for a better attempt at having a good impact. I also think we must consider and accept that how we believe is the right way to live can be completely different in a different place. In Bolivia they have their own child care act where they diagnose if a working place is suitable and necessary for a child but without funding they cannot implement this act. They cannot just put laws in place to resolve a situation.

We can think learn about this grey area between child labour and child exploitation to understand how to have a better impact on the world with our consumer power as well as any other super powers. For example; pressurising companies like Apple to do more than just suspend operations. They CAN do something about ensuring working conditions are better, like Bolivia intended to.

FAIR FAVOURITES

Mirembe Makes sells jewellery made in Uganda from recycled paper beads aswell as jewellery made in the UK from recycled glass beads from Ghana. All chains used in the jewellery made in the UK are sourced from charity shops and are then upcycled when they are combined with the beautiful colourful beads from Krobo, Ghana. Each of the pieces made in the UK are unique and no two are the same. To find out more about Mirembe Makes you can find them on instagram; @MirembeMakes or visit their website; www.mirembemakes.bigcartel.com

Mirembe Makes £10

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Mirembe Makes £13

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Mirembe Makes £15
 

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Mirembe Makes £15

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Mirembe Makes £10

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Mirembe Makes £15

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I got my information from these sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/feb/24/is-child-labour-always-wrong-the-view-from-bolivia-podcast-transcript

https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/03/03/netherlandss-plan-cut-child-labor-out-products

http://news.trust.org/item/20170227145130-br2gz/

http://news.sky.com/story/child-miners-firm-refuses-to-apologise-over-cobalt-sourcing-10785313

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_labour#The_Industrial_Revolution

https://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/child-labour

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/how-effective-are-social-security-and-welfare-in-india/article6823320.ece

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Social_Assistance_Scheme

Soomaiya Saturday- Eggs

In the UK we consume 12 billion eggs a year, and only 2% of these are organic. What is the difference between free range and organic?

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When I started to work at the farm I noticed that there were some chickens who looked like they were bullied by the other chickens. They are bald in areas and looked skinny and generally quite strange compared to the healthy looking chickens. I found out that these were rescued from battery farms. 

There is a very clear visible difference between the happy healthy chickens and the battery farm chickens and it’s really sad to see that difference. In the farm’s blog they describe how the battery chickens didn’t go outside for 2 weeks on their own without encouragement, showing a clear psychological impact from being at a battery farm. You can read about the chicken’s at the farm on the farms blog post.

So why do the organic chickens look so different from battery farm chickens, and how do free range chickens compare?

The egg farmer from Wirrebee South argues that it would be impossible to cater to the demand which will double by 2050, with organic farming- ‘farmers had moved to caged eggs in the 60s because of consumer demand for a cheaper, cleaner product.’

Like the exploitation in the garment industry, consumers can be seen as the force driving it. By creating a demand we are pushing for cheaper and faster products.

If you eat eggs and you want to be a conscious consumer you can look for the soil association logo when buying your eggs. The farm I work at is certified by the soil association and I can see how they live, with room to roam and to follow their natural behaviours. Let’s change that 2% to 100%. We are the change we want to see.

Fair Favourites

This weeks favourites are from Arthouse Meath. 

‘ARTHOUSE Meath presents the skills and talents of men and women living with complex epilepsy, learning and physical difficulties. With high quality artwork and products ARTHOUSE Meath aims to create a platform of positive change in attitude towards people who are often marginalised. 100% of sales revenue goes towards sustaining the enterprise, helping it to grow and evolve.’

Swim with Whales Forever Weekend Bag

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Beach Hut Snug Pyjama Set

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Keep Wildlife Wonderful Jug

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Birds Apron

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I got my information from the following sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/30/free-range-eggs-con-ethical

https://www.soilassociation.org/blogs/2017/february/organic-vs-free-range-eggs-whats-the-difference/

http://www.bhwt.org.uk/free-range-free-range-egg/

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/19/-sp-inside-the-battery-hen-shed

http://stepneycityfarm.org/are-our-hens-happy/

https://www.riverford.co.uk/blog/2016/08/18/ethical-eggs-organic-vs-free-range/

Soomaiya Saturday- Don’t be a cow.

Have you ever wondered how on earth we produce 11 BILLION litres of milk in the UK per year?

The question has crossed my mind!

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Milk.

What grinds my gears about the milk industry is that:

1. Cows are continuously impregnated. 

2. Male calves are useless so they’re sold into the meat industry (as veal, apparently often to halal slaughterhouses).

3. According to this PETA article cows produce up to 5 times amount the milk than a cow in 1950. Through artificial insemination and drugs to produce more milk we are producing milk in an unnatural and immoral way.

4. Even though cows can live up to 20 years, they’re killed after 5 years, after they have been worn out and are of no use anymore.

It bothers me because as a compassionate human person (whose religion orders them to take care of the world and everything in it, as we will be accountable for every action we take) I hate to see living creatures being exploited and just becoming a commodity.

I understand that milk is halal (permissible in Islam) and that we CAN drink it but sometimes people raise the point that we are drinking another animals milk. No other animals drink another animals milk. 

I can understand that male calves may not be useful to a business owner, and is a liability to care for. But I don’t understand how there is no value for their life at all. 

In an ideal world there would be more value for a calves life. There would be an option where they can grow up and still be useful. Like Ahimsa, a slaughter free milk company. You may not get milk as often as you’d like but it seems to stay in line with the natural order of things. 

Milk is now produced, in my opinion, in an unnatural way. In many ways we have taken the laws of nature into our own hands. 

It CAN be used for good but it IS used for exploitation.

PETA VS THIS IS DAIRY FORMING

Something else that is quite interesting is how information about milk production is presented on an anti-milk article compared to a pro-milk website.

Instead of rebuking or providing extensive information the pro-milk website provides worryingly short explanations about animal welfare. You can click the names of the websites above to see for yourself.

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FAIR FAVOURITES

This weeks favourites are from a fair trade shop called Bibico. I really appreciate their small collection which consists of essentials. I love minimal, easy clothes that you can’t go wrong with.

MAYA DENIM TUNIC DRESS

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AUDREY CHUNKY COWL NECK SWEATER

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STRIPED MOHAIR SCARF

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I used the following sources-

http://freefromharm.org/farm-animal-welfare/what-about-humanely-raised-milk-and-dairy-products/

http://www.thisisdairyfarming.com/discover/dairy-farming-facts/are-‘super-dairies’-harmful-to-cow-welfare/ 

http://freefromharm.org/farm-animal-welfare/what-about-humanely-raised-milk-and-dairy-products/

http://www.the-calf-at-foot-dairy.co.uk/about-our-dairy.html

http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/factory-farming/cows/dairy-industry/