Make it a Fairtrade Easter this Year: Choose Sustainable Chocolates
As Easter rolls around, you might be thinking about picking up some chocolates for your annual festivities. However, are you aware of the impact that chocolate can have on the environment and the people involved in the farming and harvesting of cocoa beans? The growing interest in sustainably sourced chocolates is a long overdue wake-up call to the chocolate industry. Read on to learn more about avoiding treats associated with child labour and environmental degradation.
So, what is the issue with chocolate?
Chocolates are mainly grown in West Africa, where workers are paid unfairly, and treated poorly for their work. Children are often used for hazardous labour through the farming and transporting process. Approximately 2 million children in the Ivory Coast and in Ghana are tricked or sold into slavery where they carry heavy loads of cocoa, use harmful pesticides and handle machetes. Extreme poverty also drives parents to sell their children to work on unethical cocoa farms to provide support for the family.
One of the main environmental challenges with chocolate production is deforestation. Many cocoa farmers clear large areas of land to make way for their crops, which contribute to the destruction of ecosystems and habitat. Chocolate production also requires a significant amount of water. This specifically poses the threat of water scarcity to the livelihoods of local communities as chocolate is typically grown in areas where water is scarce.
What is sustainable chocolate then?
Sustainable chocolate ensures that the process of chocolate production does not exploit humans nor the environment. On the environmental side, this means that cocoa is grown with sustainable farming practices, such as agroforestry, which involves planting cocoa alongside other plants; this promotes biodiversity and soil health, rather than clear cutting large forests. It also prioritizes reducing waste and minimizing carbon emissions throughout their production process. On the social side, sustainable chocolate is produced in a way that prioritizes fair trade and social responsibility. This means that farmers who grow cocoa beans are paid fairly for their work. Sustainable chocolate companies ensure cocoa farmers are provided with training, resources, and a safe environment to conduct their farming practices.
How do I choose ethical and sustainable chocolate?
Choosing ethical and sustainable chocolate is important for a variety of reasons, including fair pay for cocoa farmers to reduce poverty, to promote economic development and to reduce the impact of cocoa production on the planet.
Here are a few things you can do to ensure you are supporting sustainable and ethical chocolates:
- Eco-labels and certifications such as Rainforest Alliance, B-corp or Fairtrade
- Look for companies who track and report on their supply chain, such as reporting where their goods and products come from, and how they are made
- Look for companies who have environmental and social commitments, such as minimizing greenhouse gas emissions, or paying their staff and their cocoa farmers a fair wage
- Check out World Vision’s chocolate guide, or a local to Vancouver social enterprise roaster, East Van Roasters
As consumers, it’s time to acknowledge our power in making a difference. So, let’s keep up the momentum and demand chocolates that are not only delicious but also align with our values!