Why I stopped advocating Fairtrade

Hey guys!

So it’s the middle of Fairtrade Fortnight, and what better way to celebrate than with a blog on why Fairtrade ISN’T that great yay!

 

Ngl, I really hate raining on people’s parade; I know how it feels being so passionate about Fairtrade, it’s purpose, how you’re changing people’s lives etc. Believe me, your girl was part of her borough’s Fairtrade group and used to go round selling Fairtrade Palestinian dates (they bang). However, to then be presented with a lot of fundamental issues revolving Fairtrade, how can I, as someone who wants to do right to workers around the world, ignore this and continue campaigning just to feel that satisfaction of doing ‘something’, regardless of whether it was effective?

By now I’m sure the ethical scene think I’m trolling them lol but honestly, I hope most of you will understand why I’m eager to address why Fairtrade presenting themselves as a solution to poverty reduction is problematic.

Anyways, I’m gonna end that monologue, and get straight into it. LEGGOOOO.


Conditions in Fairtrade farms aren’t that fair tbh

See the source image

Professor Christopher Cramer from SOAS university conducted research evaluating the impact Fairtrade has had on its producers in Uganda and Ethiopia to find some shocking results. 

So Fairtrade emphasise how we as consumers can help small-holder producers (farmers with small farms) out of poverty by increasing their income from crop production. However, Fairtrade tend to paint all small-holder producers with the same, romanticised brush (that’s the phrase right?), ignoring the fact that all farmers and their holdings are different, with different conditions, characteristics etc. (standard Western approach to the Global South). 

For example, some small-holder producers actually operate on land at least 20x larger than others, and even employ many workers. This goes against the stereotypical Fairtrade, romanticised image of a small-holder farmer working hard producing with his family on a small farm right? In fact, these capitalist farmers, with hired labour and particular farming methods, dominate production, and receive a lot of aid and support, due to their ability to produce more.

Farmers are part of a cooperative (association owned and run jointly by its members) where benefits and profits from Fairtrade should be shared equally. However, in reality, it is the small group of large producers just mentioned who usually occupy leading roles in the cooperatives, controlling distribution of resources. Instead of incorporating the poor, these cooperatives encourage elitism, with power at the top. And yes, they are usually men.

Another thing. You may be aware that Fairtrade adds a premium onto the price of their products, which is meant to be invested into development projects, to be decided democratically by producers or workers. However, these premiums usually go towards investments that benefit the largest producers and sellers. Several shocking examples are mentioned. In one case, the premium was used to build a health clinic, but only those who were employed permanently could use it, excluding many of the poor people living nearby who were hired temporarily (e.g. seasonal workers), and were required to pay a fee they could not afford. 

“James, is desperately poor and lives with his elderly father in an inadequate shack close to the tea factory. Although his father was once a temporary worker at the tea factory, James is charged fees at the tea factory’s Fairtrade health clinic. He cannot afford them and instead, although he only has one leg, he hobbles more than 5km to receive free treatment at a government clinic.”

In another case, flush toilets made with premiums could only be used by senior management. 

One finding that is particularly shocking, is the fact that workers in non-Fairtrade farms were actually getting better wages, and treatment, than those producing the same products in Fairtrade farms. For example, female workers in Fairtrade sites were paid 70% of the daily wage earned by those in non-Fairtrade sites, and were offered fewer days of employment. In addition, in Ethiopian farms, only 1% of those working in Fairtrade sites received payments for medical care compared to 11% in other sites and 56% in large-scale state farms. 

There are also reports of poor monitoring of conditions in the farms, allowing these practices to continue. In the only Fairtrade certified estate in Ethiopia, workers’ rights were ignored and management were able to avoid the half-hearted attempts of Fairtrade executives to promote the employees’ interests.

So considering Fairtrade’s passion for poverty reduction, you’d think they would be extremely concerned and grateful for such a report highlighting these alarming findings. APPARENTLY NOT.

Yeh, Fairtrade were pissed. They were extremely defensive, attempted a smear campaign against the researchers, even making a legal threat against them and sending hostile letters. 

It continues a relationship of dependency 

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Agro-ecology is a new means of production on farms, applauded by many. It refers to the transition of farming methods from those that focus on producing food to export (send to other countries i.e. the West) using fossil-fuelled methods, to those that encourage production for personal consumption and the local market via more sustainable practices e.g. recycling nutrients. By using such methods and by producing for local consumption and local markets, this reduces farmers’ reliance on external inputs (e.g. fertilisers) and income (e.g. producing solely to make income by exporting produce to the West). Indeed, by producing in a way that allows farmers to actually consume their own produce as well as sell it in their local markets and export, this reduces their dependency on Western markets to help them survive. Fairtrade relies on farmers producing for export purposes, and does little to support farmers in reducing their dependency on the West, in particular, prioritising food sovereignty (the right of people to produce, distribute and consume healthy food in and near their territory in a sustainable manner). Instead, it relies on the very export-production system that encourages dependency, and denies farmers the right to expand beyond small-scale production for Western consumers.

I mean, imagine the abundance of food produced in the Global South, yet the very farmers producing these crops are impoverished and malnourished. Does that not sound ridiculous to you?

Colonial roots

 

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 In Ian Hussey’s anti-capitalist critique of Fairtrade, he argues that Fairtrade marketing reinforces colonial distinctions between the poor Global South farmer and benevolent Global North consumer, failing to address the structures that produce the impoverished state of farmers in the first place. 

He explains that the distribution of power in fair trade is similar to colonial divisions of the globe, with Fairtrade’s focus on former colonies, to be sold in mainstream markets, where decision-making is concentrated. In 2011, 19 of the 24 members that composed Fairtrade International were based in the Global North, with producers having little say in policies, structure and direction of the Fairtrade movement. By producing a system to ‘save’ workers, where most of the decisions are made by the Global North with little say from the very workers its supposed to save, there is literally a red alarm going off screaming neo-colonialism (control of less-developed countries by developed countries through indirect means). 

Fairtrade, therefore, cannot be a means to end poverty, because it continues the global power imbalance of workers in the Global South as dependent on the global North, and most importantly maintains this dependency through perpetuating these divisions, allowing and justifying further control from the North.

Supports the richest

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So lets not deny that the West benefit more from profits made by Fairtrade. Fairtrade is a multi-billion pound business with executives in the UK earning around 500 times the annual amount earned by the workers who produce its commodities. Most of its expenditure goes towards public education and awareness, with its branding and advertising contracted out to a company with clients including Nike and Coca-Cola. The company is loaded. In 2008, with an income of £7.2m, more than £2.1m went on public education and awareness. 

Moreover, while advertisements tend to focus on African and Asian farmers being ‘liberated’ by Fairtrade, the truth is, most of their business is done with Latin America. This is not to undermine Latin America and the need for investment, but Ndongo Samba Sylla argues that by favouring Latin America, Fairtrade are favouring richer producers at the expense of the poorest. She argues that since Fairtrade aims to help those already on its ‘path’, the poorer countries it advocates are often neglected as a result. In doing so, Fairtrade is serving and trading with the rich, supporting wealthy farmers at the expense of poorer countries.

Let’s not forget the costs of membership, which entail the cost of certification, annual inspections and compliance with Fairtrade organisational structures. In one cooperative, an executive admitted that after paying for the cooperatives employees and programmes, there was nothing left for individual farmers.

2 Conclude

Image result for fairtrade poverty

For me, the problem with Fairtrade is the fact that it acts as a means to reduce poverty and implies that we as individuals can be part of that change through our consumer actions. While we can probably make lives a bit better, once again we are drawn into the neoliberal ideology that we as individuals and our individual actions are responsible for the worlds problems, taking our attention away from the systematic issues of capitalism and dependency that perpetuate the exploitation of workers.  While workers are often the face of the movement, the research above shows the reality of Fairtrade for many workers, and the response from Fairtrade indicates a corporate mindset. Through alternative methods such as agro-ecology, this emphasises the importance of workers sustaining themselves and reducing dependence on the West for survival, which would create a more long-term impact on the lives of workers as opposed to Fairtrade.

Most importantly, I want us to change our stance towards Fairtrade as the means by which we will achieve justice, review the colonial connotations of movements that try to ‘save’ workers without acknowledging the agency of workers themselves and their rights, and the need to go beyond dependency on the West. This isn’t an attack on anyone. This is an attack on the system that is allowing such rhetoric to blind us from the structural problems that continue the extraction of commodities at the expense of workers’ rights, in the name of ‘philanthropy’.

 

Resources:

 

Cramer, C. et al (2017). Fairtrade cooperatives in Ethiopia and Uganda: Uncensored. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03056244.2014.976192?journalCode=crea20

Cramer, C. et al (2017). Fairtrade and Labour Markets in Ethiopia and Uganda. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/00220388.2016.1208175?needAccess=true

Altieri, M. A. & Toledo, V. C. (2011). The agroecological revolution in Latin America: rescing nature, ensuring food sovereignty and empowering peasants. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03066150.2011.582947

www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/fairtrade-has-thrown-its-toys-out-of-its-cot/15250#.Wpnra0xFzIU

https://briarpatchmagazine.com/articles/view/fair-trade-and-empire

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/sep/05/fairtrade-unjust-movement-serves-rich

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cif-green/2009/dec/12/fair-trade-fairtrade-kitkat-farmers

A Can’t of Coca Cola

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I used to be addicted to coca cola as a child and teen. I had to drink it almost everyday probably. I’m pretty sure my milk bottle as a baby was filled with coke instead of milk (lol jk). I weened myself off coke and if I ever have it now it’s so disappointing. To be honest that happens with everything that I’ve reduced eating. You have very high expectations of how unethical food should taste if you haven’t had it in while.

But anyway!!!!!! This isn’t about how Coca Cola tastes (rubbish). 

This about how Coca Cola acts (Rubbish).

So let’s get straight into it, shall we?

WATER RESOURCES

In India, farmers have protested against Coca Cola and more than a million traders are boycotting Coke and Pepsi. It takes 400litres of water to make a bottle of coke which is about 1690 cups of water in layman terms. Although who can comprehend that.

Well lets see.

If we should drink 8 cups of water a day, its about 211 days of water people!!! Please consider this the next time you order one with your meal.

Considering that India is having one of the worst droughts in 140 years this is not something to be brushed under the carpet. The low levels of water have caused a thermal power station to shut down in February, wilted harvests have led to higher food prices, water has had to be delivered to homes and tens of thousands of people queue daily for water.

It’s not just coca cola that have to clean up their act. Hotels in India are being judged on the type of shower heads they use to conserve water. But Coke and Pepsi are fiercely opposed with hundreds of farmers demonstrated against them when they planned to build a $75 million bottling plant. The authorities approved cokes request to withdraw 4 million litres of groundwater a day. After 4 months of opposition the plan was cancelled. But when Pepsi proposed a plant and were authorised to draw 1.5 million litres a day, not only was it approved but protesters were beaten by the police.

In the past Coca cola bottlers have been closed for extracting groundwater above legal limits and because of water pollution and for violating mandatory environmental requirements.

Protesters have rightly accused the authorities for “acting as agents to foreign capitalists” and that “the common good was being sacrificed to foreign corporations” while “farmers were flying from water shortages and crop failures”.

“Coke and Pepsi are the best-known agents of water privatization and commodification of water,” said Nityanand Jayaraman, a journalist and activist in Chennai. “It is unethical and immoral for a resource that is so vital to life to be commodified. The two companies also stand accused of questionable practices. They make excellent poster boys, framing the issue of water scarcity as an actionable one of private greed causing the decline of a valuable public resource.”

SLAVE LABOUR YOU CAN KEEP

Brazilian government officials have recently accused two coca cola production and distribution centers for treating workers like slaves according to a Reporter Brazil. The following discoveries were made after a 7 months inspections:

  • 179 truck drivers were forced to work 80-140 EXTRA hours per month
  • They were often denied sleep between shifts 
  • This led to “a variety of physical and mental health related issues, such as “body aches, stress, lack of interaction with family members and almost no leisure time.”

in 2013 and 2014 truck drivers successfully sued Spal (a licenced manufacturer of Coca Cola).

Boycott Divestment Sanctions

The BDS movement has placed a priority on boycotting coca cola because of the factories that are in illegal settlements in occupied Palestine lands, breaking international law. “Coca cola has at large ignored calls to abide by international law.”

“In 2009 the company had also hosted a special reception at the Coca-Cola world headquarters to honour Brigadier-General Ben-Eliezer. Under the presidency of Ariel Sharon, Ben-Eliezer served as Israeli Defence Minister presiding over 2002 storming of Jenin, a refugee camp, leaving hundreds of Palestinians dead.’

Coca Cola’s water and electricity demands are likely to be given preference over the needs of Palestinian people based on reports from around the world which show that their bottling plants usually adversely affect the communities living around them. People in Gaza only have access to 30% supply from the only power plant in Gaza, hospitals run on emergency generators and Palestinians in Gaza face a chronic shortage of fresh water. “Access to water is limited on average to 6-8 hours for 1-4 days a week for the population of Gaza.”

“The settlements help to sustain Israel’s illegal occupation making it impossible to create peace and an independent Palestinian state. The settlements are also considered illegal under international law. Israel’s yearly expansion of settlements has created an extremely difficult situation on the ground for Palestinians. Settlers get away with land theft while attacking and harassing Palestinians on a daily basis for simply being Palestinians.”

Be careful of buying coke disguised as another brand

Here’s a list of coca cola drinks:

  • sprite
  • lilt
  • schweppes
  • glaceau smartwater
  • oasis
  • fanta
  • minute made
  • roses 
  • 5 alive
  • dr pepper
  • powerade
  • appletiser
  • honest
  • kia ora

Further reading and sources
http://www.circleofblue.org/2017/world/right-life-water-drought-turmoil-coke-pepsi-tamil-nadu/
http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Brazilian-Coca-Cola-Manufacturer-Accused-of-Slave-Labor-20160826-0007.html
https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/society/2017/5/7/coca-cola-donated-thousands-of-dollars-to-extremist-zionist-group
http://www.foa.org.uk/campaign/notinmyfridge/
http://www.coca-cola.co.uk/drinks

Mo Honey, Mo Problems?

Honey is great right. It soothes coughs, it treats wounds, relieves allergies and it almost never expires. But is honey production hurting bees and why can it be considered unethical? We need bees to pollinate plants but as their numbers fall how can we help to ensure their survival.

This blog will be focussing on the question- is eating honey ethical? You can decide for yourself!

Honey is bee vomit. Yes. Bee vomit. Why is bee vomit so precious to bees as well as humans? 

Bees store honey for nutrition during cold weather. “22,700 bees are required to fill a single jar of honey.” So it’s clear why it can be considered as common thievery when we consume honey. After all if you spent all summer making enough food to get by in winter, you’d be pissed if someone else decided they’re entitled to it.

Our relationship with bees, as it is with almost everything else on the planet on a mass scale, is unjust and not tayyib. Just as other animals are factory farmed, so are bees.

  • Factory farms pump bees with antibiotics whether the bees are sick or not. This is to prevent toxins from entering. Antibiotics contribute to immune system deficiencies and make bees resistant to pests and diseases. 
  • Queen Bees are artificially inseminated to breed better. This causes the death of drones who naturally impregnate the Queen.
  • Bees have been manipulated to be bigger than they used to be 100 years ago
  • A study done by food safety news found that ¾ of the 60 jars of honey were counterfeit and contained no bee pollen
  • Swarming (which is when the hive divides after the birth of a new queen) is avoided because it can cause honey production to decline. So beekeepers clip the wings of the queen, kill and replace older queen after just one or two years or confine a queen who is trying to begin a swarm.

But there is something to be said about a give and take relationship with bees. There are less than 200,000 hives in the UK and if this reduces any further sustainable food production would be affected. It is argued that the only reasons we have any bees at all is because of beekeepers.

Organic honey production can create a balanced human bee relationship. For example beekeepers move bees to areas that they can thrive at key times of the year. Without beekeepers there would be no bees because of parasitic mite infestation. Some people actually only take up bee keeping to beneficially impact the environment, and only take any surplus amount of honey. It’s also argued that beekeepers feed bees where they would have otherwise starved.

So what can you do to ensure you are making the most compassionate decision when it comes to honey?

Buy locally where you know exactly what is going down

Want to avoid Honey all together? What are the alternatives:

  • Agave nectar
  • Rice syrup
  • Molasses
  • Barley malt
  • Maple syrup
  • Dried fruit
  • Fruit concentrates

Further Reading

https://www.omlet.co.uk/guide/bees/honey_and_wax/a_jar_of_honey/
http://www.yourdailyvegan.com/vegan-guides/is-honey-vegan/ 
https://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/animals-used-food-factsheets/honey-factory-farmed-bees/
https://www.lovefood.com/news/57559/whats-in-it-for-the-bees–is-it-ethical-to-eat-honey
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/jun/17/ethical-living-eating-honey-lucy-siegle

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- Palm Oil Palm Oil Palm Oil

Palm is the most commonly used vegetable oil, it is in most food products and mixed with motor vehicle products. I have found that it’s really difficult to find any food products that don’t have palm oil in them. As an ethical eater I try to avoid food that uses palm oil because of the impact it has on the environment and animals.

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Air Pollution

Palm Oil is cultivated in tropical places such as Southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa. Vast areas of forest are destroyed to make room for more palm oil plantations everyday. 

When forests are bulldozed and torched large amounts of harmful gasses are released into the atmosphere.

The fires also affect the health of workers and people who live in the surrounding areas.

Animals

Tigers, elephants, rhinos and orangutans are threatened by Palm Oil production. Endangered species habitat’s are destroyed for the purpose of Palm Oil and they “are squeezed into increasingly isolated fragments of natural habitat.”

Pail Oil forests have the least amount of biodiversity at 11 species compared with 80 species in a primary forest.

All animals are affected when poison is used to eliminate rats.

Communities

Deforestation for the purpose of Palm Oil displaces communities who aren’t recognised by the government when the land is handed over to companies. People are pushed out of their land which often creates friction within communities and against companies. 

Farmers who are pushed out of their land then have to clear forests to set up a new farm. New farm land is often very far from towns which restricts access to markets and health and well being services.

Labour rights- taken from SPOTT

  • Workers often live in poor conditions without access to basic facilities such as clean water and lighting, and are isolated by a lack of social support and cultural barriers.
  • Some oil palm plantations are dependent on imported labour or undocumented immigrants.
  • Trafficking cases have been identified in Malaysian and Indonesian oil palm plantations. Workers often have their passports and other official documents confiscated and are not given proper contracts. They can face abusive conditions and can be threatened with deportation or confiscation of wages.
  • Child labour is a common problem in Malaysian and Indonesian oil palm plantations. Children receive little or no pay and may be forced to endure harsh working conditions including long hours and exposure to toxic chemicals. This can be driven by poor education, a lack of school facilities and a generally low regard for education in rural areas.
  • In Malaysia, it is estimated that between 72,000 and 200,000 stateless children work on palm oil plantations.

“Reports of displaced communities and illegal land grabs are not uncommon. The resulting conflicts, loss of income and dependence on large plantations have had a significant impact of the social welfare of many.”

Can things improve?

Greenpeace supporters campaigned for many years and put pressure on big brands to stop using Palm Oil company until it changed it’s practices. IOI, the worlds third largest Palm Oil company, has now put together an action plan agreed to independent third-party verification of its progress in one year’s time. This came after a suspension from “Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) following a complaint by environmental organisation Aidenvironment, which meant it could no longer call any of its palm oil ‘sustainable’”

Unilever and Nestle have stopped buying from IOI and refuse to buy from IOI after the suspension from RSPO has been lifted.

“One of the most important points is that IOI will be actively monitoring its suppliers to ensure they too are safeguarding forests and people. Any company selling palm oil to IOI will need to prove it is protecting forests, so the impacts should spread far beyond IOI’s own operations.”

Here is a list of things you can do taken from rainforest rescue:

  • Enjoy a home-cooked meal using fresh ingredients and oils such as sunflower, olive, rapeseed or flaxseed are ideal for cooking and baking.
  • Read labels: As of December 2014, labeling regulations in the EU require food products to clearly indicate that they contain palm oil. However, in the case of non-food items such as cosmetics and cleaning products, a wide range of chemical names may still be used to hide the use of palm oil. A quick check of your favorite search engine will turn up palm oil-free alternatives, however.
  • Ask your retailers for palm oil-free products. Write product manufacturers and ask them why they aren’t using domestic oils. 
  • Sign petitions and write your elected representatives: Online campaigns put pressure on policymakers responsible for biofuels and palm oil imports. Have you already signed all of Rainforest Rescue’s petitions?
  • Leave your car at home: Whenever you can, walk, ride a bicycle or use public transport.

Ethical Consumer have put together a list of products that contain no palm oil or sustainably produced palm oil. I’m going to focus on the chocolate list because that’s my vice!!! But have a look at the rest of the list for more products.

Other Palm oil-free boxes of chocolates:

  • Vivani (organic): all gift chocolate (mini bars gift tins)
  • Co-op: 24 Assorted Chocolate Truffles, Chocolate Coins, Truly Irresistible Milk Chocolate Truffles gift cube, Truly Irresistible Mint Selection, Loved By Us Belgian Chocolate Pralines,  Loved By Us Irish Cream Liqueurs
  • Mondelez: Terry’s Chocolate Orange Plain, Toblerone (all varieties)
  • Guylian: Seashells, Dark Chocolate Sea Horses, Pearles d’Ocean tin
  • Lindt: HELLO Milk chocolate heart tin

Best company rating for palm oil:

  • Booja Booja (organic, palm oil free company),
  • Divine (Fairtrade, palm oil free company),
  • Cocoa Loco (organic),
  • Montezuma (organic),
  • Vivani (organic),
  • Ferrero Rocher, Raffaello,
  • Mondelez brands (Green & Black’s Organic Collection, Milk Tray, Roses, Heroes, Terry’s Chocolate Orange, Terry’s All Gold, Toblerone),
  • Mars brands (Celebrations),
  • Guylian,
  • Lindt: Lindor, Lindt
  • Co-op

Worst company rating for palm oil:

  • Thorntons,
  • Elizabeth Shaw,
  • ASDA,
  • Morrisons,
  • Tesco,
  • Aldi,
  • Lidl,
  • Iceland

FAIR FAVOURITES- Ethical Collection 

OK these guys have such a beautiful collection. I want everything!

“Giovanna Eastwood founded Ethical Collection in 2015, encouraged by the work of her mother’s charity in Brazil. The charity taught young women to craft and sell bags made of recycled material and Giovanna witnessed the impact that the work had on these women and their communities. The pride they took in their art and the environmental benefits of recycled material gave her inspiration and incentive to dedicate her skills to ethical fashion.”

Pitusa Pom pom Top Pink

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Uzma Bozai Cotton Sagittarius Sweatshirt Grey

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Armor Lux Organic Cotton Red Breton Top

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Beaumont Organic Sophia Maxi Dress Navy & Red

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Sources and further reading

https://www.rainforest-rescue.org/topics/palm-oil#start

http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/footprint/agriculture/palm_oil/environmental_impacts/soil_water_pollution/

http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/blog/forests/major-palm-oil-company-promises-protect-forests-20170428

http://greenpalm.org/about-palm-oil/social-and-environmental-impact-of-palm-oil

http://www.sustainablepalmoil.org/impacts/social/

The Shy Activist- Factory Farms, Greenhouse Gases and Waterways

“Producing one pound of beef takes an estimated 1,581 gallons of water, which is roughly as much as the average American uses in 100 showers.” 

How does meat making pollute our air, land and water? 

In the US 10 billion animals per year are produced for consumption of meat, dairy and eggs. The affect of this on our land is a third of the world’s carbon footprint. “Greenhouse gases such as water vapour, methane and carbon dioxide stop heat escaping from the Earth into space. An increased greenhouse effect can lead to global warming and climate change.”

So how exactly does factory farming affect the environment?

  • 37% of methane emissions result from factory farming. Methane is “70 times more damaging per ton to the earth’s atmosphere than CO2″.

In the US factory farms produce 1 million tons of manure a day which is often stored in open air lagoons. When the lagoons have reached capacity the manure is spread in the surrounding areas rather than be transported to a waste facility (to save money).

  • 65% Nitrous Oxide emissions result from factory farming. Nitrous Oxide is 200 times more damaging than a ton of CO2.

Genetically modified corn and soy is grown to feed animals. The large amount of pesticides used to grow the feed emits nitrous oxides. “Livestock feed production, like human food production, often involves large applications of nitrogen based fertilizer to agricultural soils. This in-turn results in nitrification and denitrification in the soil and the release of nitrous oxide to the atmosphere.”

  • Enough carbon is being released into the atmosphere to increase the rate of global warming by 50 percent

“Clearing land to grow soybeans in the Amazon rainforest is responsible for clearing over 100 million hectares of forest…In the United States alone, over 260 million acres of forest have been cleared to make room for crop fields, most of which are used to exclusively grow livestock feed. “

  • Animal poop lagoons contaminate local waterways

“When these by-products get into local water ways, they cause toxic algae blooms which lead to “dead zones” and massive fish kills. High levels of nitrates in drinking water can cause spontaneous abortions and blue baby syndrome and bacteria outbreaks from agricultural water pollution is responsible for several disease outbreaks across the United States.”

So what to do?

  1. You could reduce your meat intake. It does’t mean that you have to become a vegetarian if that concept sounds blasphemous to you. You could have Meatless Monday’s or have meat as a treat in the weekends.
  2. Purchase local and organic produce. You may have a local farm that sells their own meat or there are farms such as willowbrook farm who raise animals ethically and sustainably.
  3. Do not give your money to businesses who do not care for our environment! If we continue to fund them they will continue to take advantage of the environment and the animals.

FAIR FAVOURITES

Fomi

“FOMI handbags and shoes are a testament to the fact that it is possible for fashion companies to ethically produce luxury goods in Africa, without compromising on quality and craftsmanship. Afomia believes that the fashion manufacturing industry could prove to be a vital economic sector for Africa. It is her hope that other companies will recognize this potential and explore the possibilities that exist there.”

ESHI OXFORD ( OPEN and CLOSED)

Sources and further reading

https://thinkprogress.org/methane-emissions-are-spiking-but-it-might-be-more-cow-than-car-791e5233dc2a

https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-factory-farms-and-environment

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/factory-farming-is-killing-the-environment/

https://www.farmsanctuary.org/learn/factory-farming/factory-farming-and-the-environment/

http://www.collective-evolution.com/2017/04/12/heres-the-environmental-impact-of-the-foods-we-eat-how-you-can-reduce-your-footprint/

http://www.ecowatch.com/how-factory-farming-contributes-to-global-warming-1881690535.html

http://www.ghgonline.org/nitrouslivestock.htm

www.bbc.co.uk%2Fschools%2Fgcsebitesize%2Fscience%2Focr_gateway%2Fenergy_resources%2Fglobal_warmingrev1.shtml&usg=AFQjCNGinf1g7BavHt01W4Bb3YZPejVO6w&sig2=_6JQb-2H6_PYpzmBFzDV1g

The Shy Activist- Balcony Grown Food

As a child I bought a daffodil bulb every spring and it never grew. I started volunteering at the farm because I wanted to learn how to grow things. After successfully growing vegetables at the farm I think I will venture into growing things at home.

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So the general rules I have picked up from gardening at the farm are:

  • seeds should be planted as deep as their size
  • when you transport plants from containers to the ground you should make sure the ground is as firm around the plant as it is everywhere else 
  • sometimes you can plant more than one seed together like when planting basil or rocket
  • sometimes you have to plant one on its own like lettuce
  • When planting them in the ground, the space you leave between plants depends on the plants. You can plant pak choi and lettuce 7-9 inches apart. Whereas Mizuna can be planted 1 inch apart

My first gardening manager would always check the firmness and tell me exactly how many centimeters seeds need to be buried or inches apart plants should be. 

My new gardening manager is much more lax and just drops seeds in and covers them. Both ways have successfully germinated seeds!

I actually prefer when my plants were always checked to make sure that I’ve done it properly. One of the first plants I transplanted to the ground was chard and I checked it all every week to see the progress. I was paranoid that my bad luck with the daffodils would ruin the farms food. I think I transplanted it in September and now I can see how beautifully they’ve grown when I harvest them for the cafe and farm shop.

Recently we sowed some seeds of basil, lavender, mint and fennel. These will be sold at the Easter fair so people who don’t have gardens can grow food at home.

So now I have some confidence that I’m not really terrible at growing food, I have been looking into what I can grow at home.

These are the things you can grow on a balcony (click each to get tips on how to grow them):

Although I have found it much easier than I initially thought it would be to grow food, it’s important to understand exactly how each plant should be cared for. For example tomatoes need a lot of fertiliser because the are heavy feeders while lettuce only needs it once or twice. Click here for tips on gardening in a balcony.

Wish me luck in this new adventure!

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FAIR FAVOURITES

This week’s fair favourites are Veja, a vegan fairtade footwear brand. They have a ‘vision which combines fair trade and ecology and links together economy, social initiatives and the environment.
A vision that proposes cultural change.
Transparency. 

Veja is an investigation, a project that is constantly evolving. This consistant development aims to reach perfection. Here are our limits.’

Read more about how they try and improve their supply chain and the limitations they face here.

Here are some of my favourites

V-10 EXTRA WHITE NAUTICO PEKIN

ESPLAR LEATHER 3 LOCKS SABLE

WATA JUTE NATURAL PIERRE

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- Did Someone Say Chocolate Chip Cupcakes?

Somehow I have managed to put a bunch of ingredients together to create something both edible and delicious. I genuinely didn’t know that was possible.

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Every year a Facebook memory pops up where my brother reviewed something I made. He gave me a 1/10 for it being edible and 0/10 for taste!

For some reason I recently became interested in venturing into the kitchen and concocting something to eat. I think it’s because I am obsessed with this vlogger, Gloria Shuri Henry. Some of her vlogs are her making food and she makes it look so easy. She bakes sometimes and it always looks fun! Plus the end product is ‘superrrr caaa-uuuute’- Gloria quote.

I decided to make biscuits after seeing her make some but I didn’t think they were delicious or superrrr caaa-uuutttee. But I could tell that if they were cupcakes they would be soon SUPERRRRR CAAA-UUUUTTEEE!!!! 

I found the perfect recipe on the vegansociety website. I used the sponge cake recipe because I just couldn’t find anything that was called a cupcake recipe. 

It’s perfect because it goes like this:

  1. Get ingredients
  2. Mix them all up
  3. Put it in the oven

It’s so simple.

Okay I’ll put the actual recipe here:

Ingredients

  • 100g vegan margarine
  • 150g golden caster sugar
  • 200g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 200ml plant milk
  • Few drops vanilla essence (optional if making normal sponge)
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Method

• Put all ingredients in a bowl and mix using an electric hand blender or by hand (by hand will take longer)

• Put the mixture into a greased baking tin or a heatproof bowl if you want a dome cake

• Bake at 180°C for approximately 30 minutes

• It’s ready when it’s golden on top, firm and springy to the touch and a skewer comes out clean

See, I wasn’t joking about the easy method. I added dark chocolate chips to mine to make them EXTRA SUPERRR CAA-UTTTEEEE. Okay, I’ll stop that now…

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Here they are!

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Fair Favourites

I found this weeks favourites on Instagram. Lost Shapes use shirts and sweaters from recycled and organic manufacturers, the ink they use are vegan and don’t contain toxic or harmful chemicals and they try to avoid waste all stages of their process. They “hope to see a day when these standards will be everyone’s standards, and we join in campaigns for better treatment of garment workers and cotton producers.”

Here are my favourites! They do these for men and women.

Unicorns organic and recycled unisex sweatshirt

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Kites recycled and organic unisex sweatshirt

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Rain Likely organic sweatshirt for men

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