Natasha Wilson

364 Things – Buy Organic Fair-Trade Coffee
January 31, 2009, 19:26
Filed under: 365 Things

coffeeWhile we’re on the subject… purchasing organic, fair-trade, shade grown coffee is another way to score points – environmentally and ethically.  In 1999 it was reported that there were 108 million coffee consumers in the U.S. alone!  Coffee is traded as a commodity, and is second only to oil in commodity value.  In the import/export world, it’s liquid gold.

Why organic?

Organic coffee beans are grown and processed without the use of harsh chemicals or toxic pesticides.  When you buy organic coffee, you’re:

  • Supporting farmers who are committed to maintaining the long-term health of our planet
  • Helping preserve biodiversity

Why shade grown?

The best quality coffee comes from plants that grow slowly under the rainforest canopy.  As the demand for coffee increases, producers look for higher efficiency approaches.  Most of these approaches involve using nasty chemicals and pesticides, and promote the destruction of natural rainforest trees and undergrowth. When you buy shade grown coffee, you’re:

  • Preserving the habitat of birds, monkeys, tree frogs and other rainforest species
  • Saying “no!” to chemicals that contaminate the land, water and farm workers

Why fair-trade?

When you purchase fair-trade coffee, you’re:

  • Eliminating the middleman and providing coffee farmers with fair fixed prices, which support a reasonable standard of living (fair wages)
  • Ensuring communities benefit from fair-trade revenue (not corporations)
  • Encouraging growers to employ sustainable farming practices

Many coffee shops are now offering coffee that is shade-grown, fair-trade, and/or organic. If you don’t see it listed on the menu, ask ’em!

365 Things – Get a Reusable Coffee Mug
January 30, 2009, 16:06
Filed under: 365 Things

acupThis is a subject that’s close to my heart.  Those who know me, know that I consume an extreme amount of coffee on a daily basis.  At this point, my consumption is unlikely to change.  So, how do I make the best of my steadfast habits?  Well, if I walked into my neighbourhood coffee shop without my reusable travel mug, there would be an embarassing pile of coffee cups on my desk, in my car, scattered around my house… sound familiar?  Traveling with a reusable coffee mug is a great way to reduce your consumption of unrecyclable paper/plastic products.

What’s In A Cup?

Yup… you heard me… unrecyclable.  Grab a cup of coffee from your local java shop, and you may notice some interesting stats; “10% post consumer recycled material” is one of them.  Why don’t manufacturers use 100% recycled paper? First off, the FDA restricts the use of recycled paper pulp coming in contact with food and beverages.  Secondly, no one can seem to make a 100% recycled paper cup that’s strong enough to hold a hot beverage.  So why can’t we recycle the paper cups we use? Most cups are laminated with a plastic resin, which helps keep the beverage warm and prevents liquids from soaking into the paper.  It also prevents the cups from being recycled.

Why do I care?

North America uses 60 per cent of the world’s paper cups, 130 billion of them per year.  Producing those cups requires about 50 million trees and 33 billion gallons of water, which could sequester 9.3 million tonnes of CO2 and quench 550,000 drought-stricken citizens in a country of your choosing.  And then, we need to consider the long-term impacts – the, “what happens when my glorious cup of coffee is finished?”  In 2006, it is estimated that paper cups accounted for 252 million pounds of garbage resting in landfills.

365 Things –  Pick One

Next time you grab a coffee, grab a resuable mug.  Many major java chains even give a discount for bringing your own.  It’s a win/win situation for everyone.

365 Things – Pick One
January 29, 2009, 15:52
Filed under: 365 Things

one_finger_350oWe live in a day where consumption and reduction should be top of mind. Meeting our basic living needs – transportation, housing, food – has an extreme impact on the health of our planet and our natural resources. Our over consumption of non-necessities is even worse.

Every day, I’m going to take a look at things I can do in my life (and I hope you can do in yours) to;

a) Mitigate the environmental impacts of meeting basic needs
b) Finding a better way to consume non-essential products in a responsible way

I’m a straight-to-the-point person, and like you, I don’t have time to learn about things in a roundabout way. So, I’ll try to keep these posts brief, and pleasing. Afterall, it only takes ONE THING to change our habits, our impacts and our feelings about the way we move forward in this world.