Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Many species of bird are threatened by Global consumerism Fair Trade can help change the way the world does business!

Today there are a few places around Oceanside that sell 'Fair Trade' products. This certification assures the consumer that ethical practices have been used to produce specific items. This form of trade sharply contrasts with the standard and established forms of trade, which have been used by multinational corporations for years at the expense of those living in the third world while destroying the global environment.

‘Fair Trade’ is helping communities in impoverished countries; establish sustainable practices that help to protect the global environment, while insuring that the workers get paid ethically. The entire system is dependent upon consumers who must make the choice to support this growing phenomenon. Namely you! Europe has been supporting this method of trade for decades, with a great deal of enthusiasm and effect but North America is slower to change.

The products look the same, and to most people the only difference is that they cost a little more, but the facts are in the ethics behind this movement that is changing the world. This social movement is organized and uses a market-based approach to empower producers in developing counties by advocating the payment of fair price while promoting sustainability. The result is social and environmental standards that help to transform the lives of people and the ecosystems that support them.

The most commonly fair traded products include: coffee, cocoa, sugar, tea, bananas, honey, cotton, wine, handicrafts, fresh fruit and flowers. These items are produced primarily in impoverished countries and sold in wealthier countries such as Canada. 50% is paid to the producers when the order is placed and 50% upon delivery in the country of origin. The buyer is responsible for all transportation costs. The producers (typically individual people, families, and small groups) are paid far more for their products, an amount that allows them to live and build their communities. This ethical trade releases the people from their dependence upon large multinational companies who previously held a monopoly over the workers.

Women in Laos were nominated for the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize because of their work over the past 30 years using Fair Trade, by planting a forest of mulberry trees, establishing silk-worm farms, developing dyes using local materials, and building a sustainable industry which provides for their community while protecting the environment.

In Columbia, drug cartels rule vast regions where entire communities are ruled by cocaine. Fair Trade has been combating this vicious cycle by establishing farms that are no longer dependent on cocaine growers. The youth in these areas are no longer forced to serve cartels and live as part of their community without fear by growing coffee, tea, sugar, and food crops.

In many third world countries the standard agricultural practice, introduced by multinational corporations, is slash and burn where the soil is depleted after a few harvests making the area infertile for many years to come. Fair Trade has implemented sustainable farming in many countries over the past 30 years so that crops can grow in one area for a long time. This allows the community to survive in one place, much closer to their traditional lifestyle, while protecting the environment.

Shade Grown is another certification that goes hand-in-hand with Fair Trade and is specific to coffee, which is grown in between the trees, allowing for the habitat for birds and animals to remain. By contrast the standard industrial coffees are grown in massive plantations that have been slash-cut and burned to remove all living organisms. The soil is then depleted in a few short harvests of coffee and then more land is scorched to grow the next crop.

For birders like myself, this is very important indeed since many of my favorite species spend the winter in the south and live in the forests where coffee is grown. Industrial coffee destroys their habitat and Fair Trade Shade Grown Practices can help to protect these areas while still allowing the people to obtain a livelihood. Hummingbirds, Waxwings, Swainson’s thrush, Yellow Warbler, Western Tanager, and most Swallows spend their winters in southern countries where Fair Trade is needed to protect their habitats. You can help by supporting these ethical practices with your purchases.

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