Counting on …day209

10th June 2022

According to the WWF, ‘Local communities are key to equitable, sustainable food systems’. They see working with local communities is the best way of developing climate resilient farming practices that enable communities to feed themselves. The charity Practical Action takes a similar approach using on the philosophy of Dr E. F. Schumacher that ‘small is beautiful’. The Fair Trade movement also puts communities at the heart of its work. Supporting groups like these and opting for fair trade products are ways of creating a sustainable world.

Midday Prayers for the Climate: 

Friday 25th February 

The earth is the LORD’s, and the fullness thereof, the world and all who dwell therein. Psalm 24:1

You Lord, are the source of all good things:

We praise you.

You call us to tend and care for your creation:

May we strive to do your will.

You have made us as brothers and sisters with all that lives:

May we live together in peace.

A Reading:

You shall not withhold the wages of poor and needy labourers, whether other Israelites or aliens who reside in your land in one of your towns. You shall pay them their wages daily before sunset, because they are poor and their livelihood depends on them; otherwise they might cry to the Lord against you, and you would incur guilt. Deuteronomy 24: 14-15

Wages that do not meet the rent,

Pay that does not feed the family?

Let justice roll on like a river, 

righteousness like a never-failing stream!

Debts that cripple, 

Interest rates that grow exponentially?

Let justice roll on like a river, 

righteousness like a never-failing stream!

Money for factories but not for schools

For plantations but not for hospitals?

Let justice roll on like a river, 

righteousness like a never-failing stream!

An absence of workers’ rights, 

Child labour and slavery?

Let justice roll on like a river, 

righteousness like a never-failing stream!

Destruction of forests and habitats,

Loss of native wildlife ?

Let justice roll on like a river, 

righteousness like a never-failing stream! (Response from Amos 5:24)

You have been told, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8

Prayers:

We pray for those who own sugar and palm oil, coffee and cocoa plantations:

That they may seek justice for workers and wildlife, for soils and habitats. 

We pray for agriculturalists and scientists:

That their work developing ecological and practical farming methods may flourish.

We pray for investors and entrepreneurs:

That their work developing new and sustainable markets may grow.

We pray for those who raise funds and awareness, and those who lobby:

That they may succeed in changing both hearts and minds and government policies.

We pray for those who monitor progress and certify business operations:

That their work will ensure and expand fair trade.

We pray for consumers:

That their hearts and purses will be open to the goals of fair trade.

Amen.

With gratitude we celebrate all that the Fair Trade movement has achieved, 

For lives transformed, for land restored and communities strengthened.

Gracious and ever generous God, 

We thank you for the gift and wonder of creation,

For the plants, animals and peoples

that reveal the munificence of your love.

Amen. 

Eco Tips

Fairly Traded

24th February 2022

This week is the first half of Fairtrade fortnight when the Fairtrade Foundation draws our attention to the their work in protecting and supporting farmers, farm workers and small businesses in developing countries. For products to gain the Fairtrade mark a thorough investigation of trading practices is made, standards attained and goals established. Products with the Fairtrade mark often command a higher price which consumers are willing to pay knowing that the extra supports the wellbeing of those involved in its production and of the environment.  

These principles are clearly ones one would wish to apply in every circumstance. As consumers we can make the effort to find out about workers pay and conditions, the effects of production on the environment, of safe guards and sustainable practices, company practices, shareholder remuneration and the payment of taxes. It is not just in developing companies that one should desire fair trade practices, but here in the UK too. Being better informed we can chose to support those companies which trade fairly. The following groups/ foundations etc offer standards and identifying logos that help inform us as consumers. 

  • Fairtrade is a system of certification that aims to ensure a set of standards are met in the production and supply of a product or ingredient. For farmers and workers, Fairtrade means workers’ rights, safer working conditions and fairer pay. For shoppers it means high quality, ethically produced products. Choosing Fairtrade means standing with farmers for fairness and equality, against some of the biggest challenges the world faces. It means farmers creating change, from investing in climate friendly farming techniques to developing women in leadership. With Fairtrade you change the world a little bit every day. Through simple shopping choices you are showing businesses and governments that you believe in fair and just trade. https://www.fairtrade.org.uk/what-is-fairtrade/ 
  • The Rainforest Alliance is a global leader in sustainability certification. Farms, forest communities, and businesses that participate in our certification program are audited against rigorous sustainability standards based on the triple bottom line: environmental, economic, and social well-being. More than two million farmers follow our agriculture standards in 70 countries around the globe. Our programs focus on coffee, cocoa, tea, bananas, and many other important commodity sectors facing urgent environmental and social challenges.  https://www.rainforest-alliance.org/approach/
  • The Living Wage Foundation is at the heart of the independent movement of businesses and people that campaign for the idea that a hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay. They celebrate and recognise the leadership of responsible employers who choose to go further and pay a real Living Wage based on the cost of living, not just the government minimum. They coordinate the announcement of the real Living Wage rates each November, based on the best available evidence about living standards in London and the UK. We also provide advice and support to employers and service providers implementing the independently-calculated Living Wage rates. This includes best practice guides, case studies from leading employers, model procurement frameworks and access to specialist legal and HR advice. They offer accreditation to employers that pay the independently-calculated Living Wage rates to all staff in London and the UK, or those committed to an agreed timetable of implementation, by awarding the Living Wage Employer Mark. https://www.livingwage.org.uk/living-wage-foundation  
  • The Fair Tax Foundation was launched in 2014 and operates as a not-for-profit social enterprise. Our Fair Tax Mark accreditation scheme seeks to encourage and recognise businesses that pay the right amount of corporation tax at the right time and in the right place. We believe companies paying tax responsibly and transparently should be celebrated, and any race to the bottom resisted. Tax contributions are a key part of the positive social and economic impact made by business. The growth of tax havens and unethical corporate tax conduct have become prominent concerns across the world. Aggressive tax avoidance negatively distorts national economies and undermines the ability of responsible business to compete fairly, both domestically and internationally. https://fairtaxmark.net/  
  • Certified B Corporations, or B Corps, are companies verified by B Lab to meet high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability.B Lab is the non-profit network transforming the global economy to benefit all people, communities and the planet.  It was created in 2006 with the mission to inspire and enable people to use business as a force for good. There are B Labs across the globe (forming the B Global Network) including Australia, East Africa, mainland Europe and North and South America. B Lab UK is a charity that launched in 2015.  As part of this international network, B Lab UK leads economic systems change to support our collective vision of an inclusive, equitable and regenerative economy. Our purpose is to redefine success in business through building a community of engaged businesses, raising awareness of the B Corp Movement and influencing change in the UK economy. Together, we are shifting our global economy from a system that profits few to one that benefits all: advancing a new model that moves from concentrating wealth and power to ensuring equity, from extraction to generation, and from prioritising individualism to embracing interdependence. https://bcorporation.uk/about-b-lab-uk/  
  • The Soil Association is the charity that digs deeper to transform the way we eat, farm and care for our natural world.Why do we do this? Because we want to live in a world which is in balance with nature. In a future with good health and a safe climate. For the last 75 years, we’ve worked with citizens, farmers, policy makers and businesses, supporting them to explore the vital relationship between the health of soil, plants, animals and people. Because the only way to solve the issues we face is to understand that they are all connected – and that food, farming and forestry are a vital part of the solution. Any product sold as ‘organic’ in the UK has to comply with organic regulation requirements written into a set of Standards. The Soil Association acts as a certification body and its symbol is a recognised and trusted international mark of organic certification internationally.  https://www.soilassociation.org/who-we-are/  
  • The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is an international non-profit organisation on a mission to  stop overfishing. For over 20 years, they have been working with fisheries, seafood companies and scientists to help protect the oceans around us, and safeguard seafood supplies. The blue MSC ecolabel is the world’s most recognised label for sustainable seafood. It is found on retail products and in restaurants identifying fish and seafood that has been wild-caught in a sustainable way and is fully traceable. The blue MSC ecolabel is only awarded to well-managed fisheries that meet the MSC’s independently verified standards for sustainable seafood production. https://www.msc.org/ 
  • The Forestry Stewardship Council, the original pioneers of forest certification, has 25 years of experience in sustainable forest management. They use their expertise to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests, bringing together experts from the environmental, economic and social spheres. 12 Irreplaceable Forest Products in Our Daily Lives: paper, toilet paper, books, cardboard, paper packaging, wood, furniture, musical instruments, charcoal, rubber products such as condoms, balls, tires, fruits and berries, and  medicines – A lot of medicines have important ingredients that come from the rainforest. While there are not any FSC-certified medicines (yet!), the standards set by FSC for responsible forest management protect the forests where these ingredients come from, thus ensuring that we will have access to them for future generations. Next time you add them to your shopping bag, make sure they are sourced sustainably by looking for the FSC logo.  https://fsc.org/en  
  • In 2008 The Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil developed a set of environmental and social criteria which companies must comply with in order to produce Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) in response to the ever-urgent need and growing global concern that commodities are produced without causing harm to the environment or society. Sustainable palm oil is responsive to increasing global food demand, supports affordable food prices, supports poverty reduction, safeguards social interests, communities and workers, and protects the environment. All organisations in the supply chain that use RSPO certified sustainable oil products are audited to prevent overselling and mixing palm oil with conventional (or non-sustainable) oil palm products. https://www.rspo.org/certification

Green Tau: issue 27

15th December 2021

“Palm oil piece”

Palm oil comes from the palm oil tree which grows in tropical regions of the world. Its fruit – both flesh and kernel – are processed to extract the oil. The oil is attractive for many reasons. 

It contains no trans fats making it healthier than other oils.  It is a good (and affordable) source of vitamins A and E and antioxidants. It is resistant to oxidisation giving it, and things made with it, a long shelf life. It is a highly productive crop: where sunflowers produce 0.7 tonnes of oil per hectare, palm oil produces 4 or more tonnes. It can be used to make a wide range of products from soap to biscuits, toothpaste to icecream, lipsticks to pizzas, pet foods to chocolate. Some is also used as a bio fuel.

Not surprisingly it is in high demand. Global production has increased from about 2 million tonnes in 1960 to 70 + tonnes in 2018 (https://ourworldindata.org/palm-oil). Production on this scale has led to vast areas of land being repurposed for palm oil plantations – with individual plantations covering 10,000 hectares (approximately 10,000 international rugby pitches or a little smaller than Jersey).  

Monoculture on this scale comes with many environmental issues, that lead to droughts, wild fires and flooding – and require widespread use of fertilisers and pesticides which pollute both water supplies and the air.  These detrimental effects are further compounded when the land cultivated involves the destruction of native forests. An estimates 5% of tropical deforestation is attributable directly to oil palm plantations  although on a positive note, the annual loss is decreasing as countries and companies respond to public criticism (https://palmoilalliance.eu/palm-oil-deforestation/).

In places such as Borne and Sumatra much of the land is covered with virgin forest which is home to many plant and animal species and notable home to large mammals such as orangutans, tigers, rhinos and elephants. Expansion of human enterprises removed the equivalent large mammals many centuries ago. One hopes that we will not allow the same to happen again.

On the other hand palm oil production is an important cash crop for many developing economies. As with the cultivation of cocoa beans (https://greentau.org/2021/12/11/green-tau-issue-26/) the profitability of this crop often does not benefit the workers on the ground. In response to both this and the threat to biodiversity – especially orangutans – some consumers and manufacturers actively avoid palm oil. The following logos are used  by

https://www.palmoilfreecertification.org/

Iceland Foods and the https://orangutanalliance.org/

Ethical Consumer has produced a list of manufacturers who avoid the use of palm oil – or use  sustainably sourced palm oil: https://www.ethicalconsumer.org/palm-oil/palm-oil-free-list

The main industry certification scheme for sustainable palm oil is provided by

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. However its scheme is not always transparent, and includes companies who are working towards sustainable production. As with cocoa beans, companies can use the certification if they pay the premium that pays for sustainable production somewhere within the supply chain. For more information see https://www.ethicalconsumer.org/food-drink/what-rspo

Traidcraft for one, did not feel that RSPO assured a fair trade product. They have established their own small scale certification platform, Fair Palm through their work with Serendipalm in Ghana. Here oil palm growers use regenerative farming techniques growing a mix of trees and shrubs that provides a range of sustainable – organically grown – crops. In addition the processing of the palm oil fruits is kept small scale so as to employ people rather than automated machines. This video clip shows the process of change from monoculture to agroforestry:  https://youtu.be/moRmOu634rk

If consumer power has already seen a reduction in the rate of deforestation , continuing consumer power should be able to demand truly sustainable and fairly traded palm oil. Careful research will be needed  as the presence of palm oil products may not always be obvious. Palm oil may be hidden under the general title of ‘vegetable oil’ or may be given a chemical name such as aluminium stearate, ammonium Lauretta sulphate, capric glyceride, or ascobyl palmitate. Ethical Comsumer’s palm oil list will help you evaluate which products you wish to buy and which you might prefer to avoid.