Producing coffee makes a significant environmental impact — estimates vary, but about 39 gallons of water are needed for one cup, according to UNESCO’s Institute for Water Education. Exploitative coffee production leads to massive deforestation. Many coffee-producing countries have extreme poverty and lack effective social infrastructure. In the highly volatile coffee market, producers and their families are incredibly vulnerable. The economic sustainability of the industry is strongly linked to the social sustainability of communities around the world. Coffee is tied to a long history of colonialism and slavery and, even today, the production of the crop remains tied up in the chains of modern slavery. Coffee farmers typically earn only 7–10% of the retail price of coffee, while in Brazil, workers earn less than 2% of the retail price. Child labour exposes kids as young as 6 years old to brutal 10-hour workdays.
How can we support our caffeine habits, coffee growers & not destroy the planet?
Well, this is not a clear cut answer.
First, stay away from places like Starbucks that cannot trace their beans to Fairtrade. Most locally sold coffee sellers are not on these lists but they might have private deals with their suppliers. Check them out before you buy from them. Local does not always equal fairly sourced, sadly. I know Espresso House is open about its coffee practices (I go there because I have friends that work there). I am fairly sure
Jacobsen & Svart Coffee has honest coffee… I will need to look into some others to know more. I tend to buy coffee and make it at home because, well, people.
For today, I am turning my frustration about this into a bit of a quest: I found Bitty & Beau’s. From their website:
As advocates for the value, acceptance, and inclusion of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the Wrights have dedicated their lives to making the world a better place for their children and others living with disabilities.
I will make sure that when I travel from Chicago to Ohio to Michigan that I stop by.