Friday, April 30, 2010

Success for advocates of Fair Trade

In recognition of Fair Trade Fortnight, I’ve added the announcement below from the Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand.

Cadbury® Dairy Milk™ milk chocolate is now Fairtrade Certified™ and starting to hit shelves across both Australia and New Zealand.

Cadbury Dairy Milk milk chocolate products becoming Fairtrade Certified™ will increase Fairtrade chocolate sales 20 fold, and double last year’s total sales of Fairtrade Certified™ products in New Zealand and Australia. In Ghana, more than 45,000 Ghanaian farmers will immediately benefit from Cadbury’s global move to Fairtrade Certification for Cadbury Dairy Milk milk chocolate products.

Fairtrade provides farmers with the security of fair and stable prices for their produce and social premiums for investment in economic and local community development. Fairtrade helps these communities through trade not aid.

Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand Executive Director Steve Knapp said from today, lovers of Cadbury Dairy Milk milk chocolate will be able to make their purchase in the knowledge that they are supporting a brighter future for very small scale cocoa farmers, their families and their villages.

“This is a real milestone for Fairtrade and for cocoa growers in Ghana. Cadbury Dairy Milk milk chocolate will create a step-change in awareness of Fairtrade here in New Zealand, while in Ghana it could potentially transform the lives and opportunities for thousands of people in cocoa-growing communities.”

“Cadbury is leading the way, listening to consumers and demonstrating that major chocolate manufacturers can make a real difference by helping to tackle poverty and empowering poor and disadvantaged cocoa farmers. We actively encourage other manufacturers in Australia and New Zealand to follow Cadbury's lead"

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Earth Day

Do you think of Earth Day as a time to reflect on personal choices, engage in community action and pressure world leaders to address climate change and environmental degradation? Or has Earth Day been co-opted by corporations wanting to attach their names to feel-good events without changing the status quo? Everywhere you look products are labeled as green and environmentally-friendly. Does this signify any real change or is it just a case of greenwashing, where companies use false claims about a product’s environmental impact in order to sell more stuff?

Greenpeace runs a website devoted to exposing greenwashing with the slogan ‘Clean up your act, not your image’. I share their skepticism of corporate slogans and their new-found interest in jumping on the green bandwagon. However, I also believe that consumers and activists can use corporate commitments and codes to draw attention to how products are made and the impact they have on the environment and the people who make, sell and consume them. So keep an eye out for greenwashers and in the meantime use Earth Day as a time to reflect on your personal choices, engage in community action and pressure world leaders to address climate change and environmental degradation. For more on the history of Earth Day and events, go to the Earth Day 2010 Action Center.

Image courtesy of

Ethical Grocery Shopping

Sometimes it can be mystifying trying to make the right choices when grocery shopping. I find myself staring at a wall of biscuits, or oil, or toothpaste, try to weigh up the issues. Buy local? How much packaging does each product have? Has the company that produces it done anything particularly odious? Is the company owned by another umbrella company (probably)? How far can I stretch my budget to make a more ethical choice?

Ethical shopping guides can be a useful shorthand to help you with these choices. The Ethical Consumer Guide, for example, offers not only a printed guide but also an iPhone app, supermarket tours (in Melbourne), and some principles to guide your choices.

The Good Grocery Guide is also useful, and is Perth-based. As well as providing an ethical product list, it also offers more general ethical shopping tips.

Shopping guides have their limits. As the Ethical Consumer Guide points out, in many cases it's best to think carefully about whether you really need to buy the product at all: "About 80% of all saleable products end up as waste, on average, within just 6 months."

Lifecycles Workshop #1: Food

This year, the Bluestocking Institute's work will focus on the lifecycles of three different products: food, clothing, and electronics. In each workshop, speakers will give brief ideas on how to translate concerns into action. Participants will also be invited to take part in informal discussion.

The 'Food' workshop will include speakers (TBA) on a range of topics, including ethical grocery shopping, key food policy issues, and fair trade. Snacks will be provided.

Please RSVP on the event's Facebook page.

Cost: $5 waged/ gold coin donation unwaged.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Darwin Bell.