Advocates for environmental sustainability would all agree that long-term solutions are going to require changes in consumer behavior. But even the most conscientious consumers sometimes find themselves stumped by confusing labeling and policies that get in the way. Our two guests this week on Sea Change Radio are each trying to make it easier to be a responsible consumer. First we will hear from Rodney North of Equal Exchange, the first organization that promoted socially responsible goods as “fair trade.” He provides the background and discusses some of the controversies around fair trade labeling of goods. Next, host Alex Wise talks with the Sierra Club’s Evan Gillespie, who’s leading a campaign to push for energy reform in California, including a solar bill of rights.
Longtime shareowner activist Steve Viederman discusses the notion of community governance, where communities reclaim democratic power of self-determination from corporations and other external forces. Exemplifying community governance is the Fair Trade Towns movement, where communities commit to supporting Fair Trade commodities such as coffee and cocoa. Continue reading
The Center for Popular Economics (CPE) recently hosted the first Forum on the Solidarity Economy at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst — home of Sea Change Radio. CPE Executive Director Emily Kawano explains the theory and practice behind the solidarity economy, and discusses strategies and next steps for the US Solidarity Economy Network in cultivating a socially and environmentally sustainable economy. And Chilo Villarreal of the Coalición Rural in Mexico illustrates solidarity economy concepts through story. Finally, the News Analysis examines the business of water.
BuildingGreen.com founder Alex Wilson discusses the history, current state, and future of the green building movement. Erin Gorman, CEO of Divine Chocolate USA, welcomes the move by Cadbury to source Fairtrade cocoa from the Kuapa Kokoo cooperative in Ghana that owns Divine, and Bama Athreya of the International Labor Rights Forum also applauds Cadbury’s move. And Karl Frisch of Media Matters brings us the ViewPoint on how the mainstream media is dropping the ball on covering climate change.
Cadbury, the popular British chocolate maker, just agreed to source Fairtrade cocoa for Cadbury Dairy Milk, the top-selling chocolate bar in the UK. The move effectively triples sales of Fairtrade cocoa for farmers in Ghana, where Cadbury sources from Kuapa Kokoo. It was one of the first cooperatives there to be Fairtrade certified in the ’90s. In the late ’90s, Kuapa Kokoo also started its own brand, Divine Chocolate, to keep more of the value that typically gets skimmed by middle-men and big chocolate companies. Erin Gorman, CEO of the Divine Chocolate USA, welcomes the move, which validates its model of Fairtrade sourcing. Bama Athreya, executive director of the activist NGO International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF), also supports the development.
Today we measure the speed of money. Woody Tasch discusses his book, Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money: Investing as if Food, Farms, and Fertility Mattered. And Katy Lederer transforms her experience working in the fast money culture of Wall Street into poetry in the book , The Heaven-Sent Leaf. Continue reading
WorldBlu recently announced its first list of the Most Democratic Workplaces. Bill Baue speaks with Rodney North, whose official title is The Answer Man at Equal Exchange, the oldest and largest for-profit Fair Trade company in the US. Equal Exchange was one of four worker-owned cooperatives and one of 34 organizations in all to win the award. The discussion addresses democracy in the corporate workplace and in the capitalist system more broadly speaking, transforming it into a more cooperative economy.
Seth Petchers, Oxfam International’s Make Trade Fair campaign coffee lead, discusses how Starbucks opposes Ethiopia’s bid to trademark its renowned regional coffee names–Sidamo, Harrar, and Yirgacheffe.
Dean Cycon, founder of Dean’s Beans Organic Coffee Company, discusses problems with the trademarking solution, and how appellation (the system by which regional wines such as Champagne and Bordeaux protect their exclusivity) represents a better solution in his mind. He also discusses Fair Trade as an important part of the solution, while also identifying limitations of Fair Trade in achieving truly ethical and sustainable trade.