Although there has been a recent surge in deforestation directly associated with the growing/harvesting of coffee beans, the Fairtrade Certification, and more importantly the Rainforest Alliance, are willing to fight for the betterment of the world. The Rainforest Alliance standards are meant to protect the environment in the aspects of growing and harvesting. The Fairtrade Certification offers support to farmers and workers who are directly funded by the consumer. These two corporations offer the consumer plenty of environmentally friendly coffee brand alternatives to help the world in its quest for a better present and future.
The formula for a better environment must start with the production of coffee, or the more important efforts will fall short as well. Coffee may do a lot for our lives, but if the consumer fails to help the efforts in conjunction with Fairtrade along with the Rainforest Alliance, those attempts will be just that… attempts. Firstly, the ventures of the Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade must be laid out to understand what we must do in return.
Fairtrade Certified coffee directly impacts the lives of the farmers and workers, supplying them with a healthy lifestyle through “fair prices, community development and environmental stewardship.” Pulled from the same article by Grounds For Change titled, Fair Trade Coffee, “Fair trade coffee farmers market their own harvests through direct, long-term contracts with international buyers, learning how to manage their businesses and compete in the global marketplace. Receiving a fair price for their harvest allows these farmers to invest in their families’ health care and education, reinvest in quality and protect the environment. This empowerment model lifts farming families from poverty through trade, not aid, creating a more equitable and sustainable model of international trade that benefits producers, consumers, industry and the Earth.” Being fortunate enough to be granted a fair price is something many farmers can’t obtain. This cycle of unfair prices causes a domino effect across the whole market. Unable to obtain secure and reasonable prices for their coffee beans, farmers are forced to cut production costs. Choosing the cheaper options for everything results in questionable practices, thus hurting the environment. All of the environmental decay from coffee farming is a direct result of the farmers not being able to support their families. Desperation and distress are a dangerous combination when it is affecting your family.
The Rainforest Alliance standards are meant to protect the environment and the rights of workers. In an article published by EthicalCoffee.net titled, Rainforest Alliance Certification, the author details how the Rainforest Alliance targets “Farms that coexist with natural forest cover, like coffee farms, are required to maintain 40 percent canopy coverage” while growing their beans. This requirement helps lessen the reach of deforestation on many coffee farms throughout the “bean belt.” “Farmers are not allowed to alter natural water courses. While they can use chemicals, such as pesticides, they must maintain buffer zones of natural vegetation between the crop areas and areas used by humans, including public roads. The standards also prohibit such activities as trafficking in wild animals, destruction of ecosystems, dumping untreated wastewater, and other harmful practices.” These requirements, in theory, should produce a healthy environment.
If you are willing to buy coffee brands with the Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance Certifications, then you must commit yourself to helping the environment in similar, yet helpful ways. Although the efforts by Fairtrade and the Rainforest Alliance are out of reach for the average consumer, you must commit yourself to helping in ways that are convenient and helpful within your realm. To endorse Fairtrade/Rainforest Alliance you must buy coffee brands with either of their certifications. Next step is to invest in an eco-friendly coffee maker to help one of the biggest impacts we have on the environment. Lastly, the need for a reusable coffee cup cannot be understated. Using disposable cups is our greatest impact on the environment when it pertains to coffee consumption.
Funding each association will increase their reach, thus affecting the more crucial environments, while simultaneously helping the “big picture.”
The Coffee Industry and their eco-friendly qualities are pointing to a more successful future.