The Republicans have their echo chamber which allows them to influence the media, so it is my turn to help the other side.

2006-04-20

Buyer, Be Fair

Tonight the University of Washington Earth Club hosted a Fair Trade movie night on campus. The event consisted of the short film Turtle World and the new documentary Buyer, Be Fair. John de Graaf and Matt Warning were on hand to take questions and have discussions about the film. Buyer, Be Fair gives an overview and history of two certifications: Fair Trade and FSC (which certifies wood). It also talks about a couple of communities that have been positively affected by these certifications.

Both certifications are market-based approaches, which means consumers decide about whether they purchase certified products and they are not required through government regulation. Fair Trade was started around 20 years ago in order to guarantee coffee growers fair prices for their goods. While Fair Trade is mainly a social guarantee, it often comes hand in hand with organic and shade grown guarantees. Farmers are kept on their land, instead of moving to the city for another job while a big company clear cuts their land for coffee, or they cut it themselves in order to grow more profitable maize. Shade grown coffee helps biodiversity and keeps habitat for native animals. FSC certifies forests and logging operations for compliance. A certified forest (which produces certified wood) isn't clear cut and leaves lots of habitat for animals.

For more information on either certification or the movie, go to their respective websites (found in the first paragraph). I feel market-based approaches are the way to go. I believe that people, when given the information and choice, would choose to support living wages for coffee farmers (so they can actually turn a profit) and sustainably managed forests. The United States is currently far behind Europe in both support and knowledge of these certifications, but that doesn't mean we can't catch up.

1 Comments:

Blogger Alicia said...

For those of you who are interested in the issue of Fair trade, there is a powerful documentary out called “Black Gold,” that documents the lives of Ethiopian coffee farmers and clearly demonstrates why all of us should be asking for Fair Trade coffee. “Black Gold” was recently released in the theater but is now available to the public on DVD via California Newsreel. You can read more about the documentary or pick up a copy of it here at http://newsreel.org/

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