the prettiest star

Laugh now, but one day we'll be in charge.

Saturday, May 7

A little of what I believe in.

Yesterday, Annalisa asked me about the 'Make Poverty History' band I have on top of my blog. I said I would explain things fully today. I don't expect anyone to agree with me, I just think it's about time I said something about it. So here it is.

I've always been acutely aware of world politics, trade, and business, I learnt a lot about it in school. It is partly because my family live in South America that I won't drink coke or eat nestle products. Coca cola, pepsi cola, and nestle all exploit their workers across the world, including South America. Don't try and tell me any different, because I've seen it myself when I've been there. I then learnt about other products, such as chocolate, coffee, tea, fruit, and honey, which also come from abroad and are not fairly traded. So, for some years now, I've made a concious decision to consume fairly traded food. The fair trade foundation puts their mark on all fair trade food, and tells you what they do in that country.

For example, my bananas come from the Windward Islands. The farmers recieve a premium that has paid for a bridge to give farmers better access to their fields, and has paid for better education facilities. People always tell me they can't afford to buy fair trade, whichis total bollocks. Normal bananas cost around £1.10, fair trade bananas are £1.12. It only costs a few pence more, in most cases, to buy fair trade, and don't tell me you can't afford that.

Organic food and fair trade food are inextricably linked. Organic food is better for the environment, and supports smaller farms and manufacturers. There are a million reasons why it's better to eat organic, but I do it because it is better for me, better for the environment, and it supports my community. I shop at Org, and get organic milk, eggs, yogurt, tofu, veggies, and random things like tahini, quinoa, and weird cheese. At my supermarket, Sainsbury's, I get fair trade coffee, tea, honey, fruit and juice. I make my own bread, soup, and sauces. It's no extra effort at all.

This is just who I am. I have never imposed this upon anyone, and don't tend to preach about it. If people ask, I'll tell them. I get challenged sometimes about it, but I believe in it very strongly, and will defend it. From it, I've become involved in things like Make Poverty History, Make Trade Fair, lots of things. I just believe there are things that are within our power to be changed in this world. I don't think it's fair that there is a massive difference between the amount we pay for internationally traded goods, and the amount paid to the people who grow them.

It also affects where I buy my clothes from, I get a lot of it from the Traidcraft online store, and I know it hasn't been made in a sweatshop. I bank with the Co-op, who don't invest in any government or business which fails to uphold basic human rights, or any business whose links to an oppressive regime are a continuing cause for concern. No, I'm not a hippy, or a vegertarian, or an eco warrior, or any of the stereotypes attached to what I believe in.

I did Governament and Politics A level at school, and since then I've always followed current affairs. I voted Green party in the European election, because our energy sources, like oil and coal, will run out in my lifetime. The rainforest, our source of oxygen, is quickly decreasing. The British govt is starting to take notice, there is an national reclyling system now, and they are looking into renewable energy sources.

I simply believe that there are ways to change the way things work. People in LEDCs had entire civilisations when we were still living in huts. Europe, in it's quest to conquer the world did a lot of wrong. Now because of our actions, third world countries are struggling to make livelihoods and yet we still exploit them. We use them for cheap labour. Millions of poor farmers can't sell what they grow because rich countries are forcing poor countries to accept imports of cheap, often heavily subsidised, food. It saddens mewhen I go to Venezuela and see my family struggle to make a living from the pittance they receive from Western oil companies. They sell fruit to buyers, which then gets sold over here for 10 times more.

This is why I bank ethically, I consume fairly traded goods, and I support local organic farms. I think trade should be fair, and if I can do something to make it fair then I will.