Buying products you love from companies you love makes them taste even better.
When your favorite drink is coffee or tea, it is important to understand the importance of buying those products from companies that value farmers and the environment. That’s why we’re going to be talking about:
Sustainability is a broad concept-- for the most part though, it entails environmental and ecological issues along with human rights. When it comes to a practice, or a brand, it is sustainable if it is beneficial to the environment, for people, communities, and can be practiced indefinitely without harm.
Sustainability stems from the word sustainable, which means something that is able to be sustained-- something that is able to be continued at a certain level over time. However, as we begin to see more environmental issues occur all over the world, sustainability has come to mean those processes and actions that allow humans to avoid losing natural resources-- there is a search for an ecological balance that doesn’t allow the quality of life of our modern societies to diminish.
Brands that label themselves as sustainable have developed a business that takes into consideration the natural environment and the community in order to produce products in such a way that does not harm the environment or people.
Now that we have an understanding of what makes a brand sustainable, let’s understand why it's important for coffee to be sustainable.
First, because sustainability concerns itself with human rights issues, it only makes sense for there to be a high consideration for those who work for a certain brand. That’s why when we look at sustainable products we must also look at if the brand has fair-trade certifications.
Looking at the coffee industry in particular, when a brand is fair-trade that means the farmer who grows the coffee receives a fair price for their product while the communities and the environment benefit.
When a farmer receives a fair price for their harvest it fosters the foundation for farmers to invest in their families health care and education, while also giving them the ability to reinvest in good environmental practices. It’s an empowering model that lifts the family from poverty through trade-- this allows for a more equitable and sustainable model of trade that benefits all sides. The farmer and the local community is an important aspect to consider while looking at sustainable brands.
Coffee production is an intensive process. Coffee trees grow for four to seven years before they even have their first harvest-- then they can produce fruit for up to twenty-five years. After the fruit has been harvested by machine or by hand, the outer layer of the fruit is removed to reveal the inner green bean that is our coffee bean. There are two ways to do this process-- the traditional way would be leaving the fruit out to dry in the sun or using a machine and water. The beans then go through their cleaning process and are shipped around the world where they go through another process that roasts and packages them for their final destination.
This process is one that uses a lot of resources and energy, something that could lead to issues with sustainability. To produce one 125 milliliter cup of coffee is 140 liters of water-- or in other words, more than two eight-minute showers.
Following fair-trade practices, coffee production can be made more sustainable by developing practices that do not deplete resources so quickly. Better crop-management, water use, the use of pesticides on crops, finding more ways to produce fertilizer by composting coffee bean waste, and using coffee hulls as fuel are all great examples of practices that can be adopted.
Tea is grown in over 45 countries around the world. India and China produce the most, while Sri Lanka and Kenya are quickly catching up in order to meet the global demand. Despite tea being enjoyed by so many, little is being done about the lack of sustainable practices by tea producing companies. Tea production holds two main issues-- an incredibly large amount of land is needed in order to grow tea, and the intensive labor that is needed to harvest is no help either.
While human rights violations are being reported all over, the environment struggles under the weight of deforestation and contamination.
Workers are under extreme conditions while harvesting tea. They are exposed to harsh elements and extremous labor while they are sometimes making less than one dollar a day. Paying workers less allows for a cheap work force that quickly produces products and keeps the prices low for the consumer.
Deforestation strips the land of its natural biodiversity to replace the land with tea plantations that do not harbor the same sort of diversity-- the great harm done to the area harms the natural plant and wildlife that occurs there.
Buying sustainable tea products ensures that you are supporting brands that care for the environment-- they focus on how they are impacting the land around them, while they also care for and acknowledge their workforce to create a system of growth that helps workers get out of poverty.
There are lots of important things to consider as you buy your products. Consider buying sustainably to help foster development of business that care about sustainability-- and enjoy that beverage with a guilt-free conscience!