Fair Trade Facts: Why does fair trade matter?

The environment and fair trade

The jungle

A view of the South American rain forest. Many fair trade
farmers grow coffee in this area, using sustainable
farming techniques that are better for the environment.

In the 1970s and 80s, traditional shade growing coffee farming techniques to methods known as “sun cultivation.” This involves cutting down trees, planting only one crop and using chemical fertilizers and pesticides. This type of industrial coffee farming leads to environmental problems like pesticide pollution, deforestation and the extinction of animals through habitat destruction.

Small farmers, those who typically participate in the fair trade movement, are the best stewards of the land. Small farmers don't have the resources to clear forests or buy chemical fertilizers and pesticides. These farmers use traditional, sustainable farming techniques, which include composting coffee pulp and rotating crops. They usually grow small plots of mixed-crop, shade grown coffee organically. In fact about 85 percent of fair trade certified coffee is shade grown and certified organic.

© 2006 by Mesa Johnson
E-mail me at mmjohnson2@stthomas.edu