Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Day 148 of our Green Year: Choosing Fair Trade Sugar

This past weekend, we were watching the Documentary Channel and we came across a documentary called The Price of Sugar. The documentary is about the exploitation of Haitian immigrants in the Dominican Republic, who are involved with the production of sugar and the efforts of Father Christopher Hartley to fix the situation. The documentary shows the horrible working conditions of the Haitians on the sugarcane plantation and the control held by the Vicini family over the plantation, and the country.

This is by no means the only place where workers are mistreated while they cut sugarcane. The truth is that the sugar that we get on our table is often tainted by the misery of those who cut it. The workers receive very little money, most of the food they eat is sugarcane and they suffer severe punishment and treatment as they work long hours.

Like we did with coffee, Layla and I came to the decision that if we are going to have sugar for tea, baking and coffee, then we are going to have sugar that is fair-trade and organic. Thankfully, we found out that our local store carries several different brands of organic and fair trade sugar, including white, brown and icing. Therefore, from now on it is organic and fair trade sugar for us. This not only helps the farmers who make the fair trade sugar, but it helps the environment as well since no pesticides are used and the sugar cane is grown in an organic manner.

Out for our walk today, we picked up another disposable pop cup, a plastic knife, some wrappers and a chip bag. We have included a photo taken yesterday of the garbage that we found during our walk.

There was less garbage there today, but we imagine the increase in garbage yesterday was due to the fact it was following the weekend here.

Since the election is raging here in Canada, we felt the need to address something that we heard about on the news recently regarding the Canada Election 2008. As we know, the NDP, PC and Liberals all travel across the country on chartered jets. We found it odd they did this considering that they touted a green message. However, we soon found out that the Liberals and NDP bought carbon offsets for their plane travel, while the Conservatives did not.
The problem is that the Conservatives criticized the Liberals for having an older plane that emitted more emissions than the newer Conservative plane. Of course, while criticizing the Liberals, they left out the fact that the Liberals bought carbon offsets for their plane travel, and paid more for it. The Conservatives have refused to buy carbon offsets and that begs the question of why. The nearest we can understand, is that if the Conservatives were to buy carbon offsets, it would be an admission that CO2 from planes, vehicles and industry causes global warming. Therefore, not purchasing carbon offsets states that the platform of the Conservatives is that CO2 is not an immediate problem (as can be seen by their less-than stellar environmental record). Instead, they choose to criticize others who have bought carbon offsets, while ignoring the problem of their own emissions altogether. Just another bit of the pot calling the kettle black in the Canada Election 2008