You may have heard or seen the word sustainability in most places. Sustainability is the ability to sustain something that already exists. In 1987, the word was introduced with the report named “Our Common Future” published by the World Commission on Environment and Development. Simply put, something that is sustainable can renew itself or maintain its current state. While meeting our own needs with a sustainable lifestyle, we also allow future generations to be self-sufficient. For example, wind energy, which is one of the sustainable energies, does not harm nature and generates energy for future generations by continuing to work for many years. The risk of occupational disease or sickness in the workplace for those working in wind turbines is very low compared to oil or mining work. As a concept, it is more detailed and too important to be simplified, but since we will look at its relationship with coffee in this article, it is enough to know its main idea.
So what is the link between sustainability and coffee, the savior of our mornings, and busy class hours, the focal point of socialization?
Spreading from Yemen to the Ottomans and from the Ottomans to Europe, coffee became so popular over time that it is even in marriage ceremonies, which is an important tradition in our country. Coffeehouses are an important part of both our and other world cultures. But recently, with the emerging 3rd Generation coffee shops, an ongoing problem has been brought to the agenda. Coffee and sustainability.
What is the problem?
When talking about coffee and sustainability, we can talk about three sub-issues: people, planet and profit
Coffee was grown in the countries (usually the countries of the equator that consisted of rainforests) where it was grown by cultivating the empty land under the forests. Countries were developing thanks to coffee and could meet their main needs such as health and education. However, when people and companies saw the increasing demand for coffee, it caused the farmers who produce coffee and therefore the countries to become poor. They could not meet the simplest educational and health needs. The companies that deal with the production have started to produce coffee production by converting the forest areas into agricultural areas in order to gain more profit. In other words, they cause long-term environmental effects for short-term profit. Production is increasing, coffee is getting cheaper. While large mass-producing companies make a profit, domestic farmers are unable to meet their simplest needs. There is also the process of collecting coffee. Picking small coffee fruits is time-consuming and can cause injury. Due to the maximum yield to be taken from the agricultural area, only slimmer workers can enter among the coffee trees planted frequently. In this case, small children make up the largest workforce in the coffee fields. Unfortunately, one of the areas where child labor is the highest is coffee agriculture.
Just being aware of the situation, in general, is a start for us to change things and perhaps help improve the living conditions of an farmer in a country that we don’t know. We can do this by switching from brand A to brand B.
How do I know if my coffee is sustainable?
When buying your coffee, research its origin and farming method. Consider the most sustainable way to prepare. And consider whether you can support the projects of an organization that promotes sustainability.
You can look at some of the certificates that your coffee brand may have so that you can drink your coffee with peace, without harming the ecosystem and anyone. Certifications are valid only for their own domains and do not guarantee that the brand is 100% sustainable, but it is a big step towards for sustainability.
Rainforest Alliance: The Rainforest Alliance, an internationally recognized environmental organization, contributes to the sustainable improvement of the nature of the countries where coffee is grown and the living conditions of the people living there.
FAIRTRADE: Products with the FAIRTRADE (Fair Trade) label guarantee our customers that the livelihood and working conditions of producers and employees are improved by FAIRTRADE fees/premiums.
UTZ Certified: UTZ certified (sustainable cultivation methods program and label in the fields of coffee, cocoa and tea) producers are trained to achieve better agricultural practices for people and our world.
If they don’t have these or similar certificates, don’t worry, you can reach out to your brand and encourage them to be sustainable.
Hoping for a sustainable future, take care of yourself.