Slave labour in the coffee industry has been revealed time and again, especially in the past 10 years. While this hasn't deterred many companies in making an easy profit off exploited labour and consumers alike, organizations like Fair Trade have certainly made a dent in the people exploitation business — ensuring fair wages, good working conditions, and quality product for all involved. I'll be honest when I say: I don't like coffee. Never really did acquire a taste for it, even before I discovered the lucrative slave business involved. However, my dad is a self-proclaimed "coffee snob". Right now, only Kicking Horse coffee will do (Fair Trade, of course).
Yet by creating equitable working conditions for people, and taking care of the earth we live on, are we actually changing the world? Or are we simply breaking trail for a new type of "good earth consumerism"? Part of abolition — when discussing any type of slavery — is reducing the demand for said "product". Whether it's coffee or sex, inherent in an abolitionist's lifestyle is the commitment to reduce consumption and demand of the things we so voraciously take hold of. It's a call to simplicity, and a desire for "the other's" needs to be met first, rather than our own. From experience, this is far, far easier said than done.
Just some thoughts… are we willing to put down that sixth cup of coffee? Is chocolate really that much of an emotional filler that we've convinced ourselves it's a"need"?
I'm all for Fair Trade and like organizations that promote the humanity and sacred space of God's workmanship. However in all "fairness", I do think we ought to take serious stock of our lifestyles as well. It's one thing to agree: "Okay, yeah… I'll chip in a few extra coins for Fair Trade — (insert delightful addiction here)", but it is quite another to begin to shift our mentalities and say: "Okay, yeah… I'll chip in a few extra for Fair Trade so wealth is re-distributed better and better as we grow. But you know what? I don't need a cup of coffee today. And that's okay."