Your journey to class in the morning is simple: snooze your alarm 4 times, roll out of bed 30 minutes before class starts, wake your roommates up getting dressed, throw your laptop in your bag, and start your trek up Bruin Walk with just enough time to stop at Kerckhoff for a pastry and some much-needed caffeine. But what about that coffee you just bought? Its journey is much longer, and much less innocent.
From Seed to Cappuccino
The grounds used to brew your coffee start their journey in the high-altitude jungles of Central America, East Africa, or Southeast Asia, where it grows as a red cherry. The coffee trees are tended to and harvested by workers who work up to 16 hours a day under harsh conditions. For every dollar you spend on a cup of coffee, these workers earn less than 3 cents. The practice is also environmentally destructive, as the beans are often grown on large plantations which practice monoculture and utilize chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
The cherries are then dried and processed into beans in a weeks-long process, at which point they must be painstakingly hand-sorted to ensure high quality. They are then ready to be exported to North America or Europe, at a price determined by stock traders on Wall Street who never come in contact with the beans or the producers. After being carefully taste-tested by experts, the beans are sold directly to large companies like Nestle and Starbucks, or through intermediaries to your favorite local artisan coffee company, where they are roasted. Finally, they can be ground, brewed, and sold to you.
How Fair Trade Helps
This process exploits the poorest workers along the supply chain, and is harmful to the environment and human health. But what are you, a sleep-deprived and caffeine-addicted college student, to do? That’s where Fair Trade comes in.
Fair Trade is a third-party certification that ensures the workers who grow and process your coffee are paid a living wage and use environmentally sustainable farming practices. Fair Trade sets rigorous standards for the production of coffee and other goods such as chocolate, bananas, tea, sugar, flowers, and clothing, among others. The practice especially favors small, locally owned farms and co-ops, as well as female-owned businesses. Furthermore, a portion of the additional revenues from Fair Trade are set aside for a Community Development Fund. From this fund, the community can vote to build schools, provide healthcare, or develop infrastructure. Since coffee is only grown in specific climates, the global supply chain will never go away, but Fair Trade makes it more transparent and accountable. There are a number of Fair Trade certifiers, but the two largest in the US are Fair Trade USA (logo displayed above) and Fairtrade America. Anytime you see one of their logos on a product, you know it was ethically and sustainably produced!
Fair Trade at UCLA
You may be thinking, “this is great, but what does it have to do with UCLA?” In 2016, with lots of hard work from the UCLA Fair Trade Campaign and E3: Ecology, Economy, & Equity, UCLA signed a resolution making it the largest Fair Trade University in the country at the time! This means that every outlet on campus offers at least 2 Fair Trade products. Here’s where you can find Fair Trade products on campus:
UCLA wants to support ethical and sustainable practices, but will only do so if students demand it. Thus, we are asking you to sign our petition demanding the changes listed above. UCLA prides itself as a world-class research institution dedicated to improving the world, and we believe putting Fair Trade first can help it put that mission into practice.
Sign our petition here: https://goo.gl/forms/C6KBeybEKSYAIERy1
As UCLA students with hectic schedules, we’ve learned that time isn’t always our friend and sometimes trying to keep the environment constantly in mind can be a challenge. With convenience at every angle, it’s very easy to fall into the buy and throw culture but it doesn’t always have to be this way. Here are 10 tips to live a more sustainable life in LA.
1. Give up single use straws completely! I started doing so last year, and I haven’t felt better! It puts less plastic into the ocean, and more savings into your bank!
2. Take the stairs instead of the elevator! Great workout, and if you have groceries to carry just think of them as free weights!
3. The average American uses 167 plastic water bottles each year. Switching to a durable reusable bottle is a great way to have an impact and live sustainably!
4. You could save at least 6 gallons per day by turning off the tap while you’re scrubbing your hands with soap!
5. This sounds obvious, but please don’t litter. Put it in the trash and recycle bins.
6. Buy a sustainable water bottle (e.g. stainless steel casing), and fill it up via the water stations on campus. You can also use it to store soup in when you go camping.
7. If possible, walk/bike/skate/scooter/jog to class instead of using Lyft or Uber.
8. Eat only what your tummy can handle; save leftovers.
9. Did you know you’re supposed to change out your toothbrush every 3 months? So next time, instead of getting a plastic toothbrush, opt for a bamboo one! Bamboo toothbrushes are lightweight, retro looking, and biodegradable. You can look good all while being eco-friendly.
10. We all love coffee. Even better? We all love cheap coffee. Even better better? We all love cheap, fair trade, coffee! Bring your own mug into Seas Cafe (Boelter Hall, South Campus) for that perfect cup o’ joe - what’s better than caffeine AND saving money AND being ethical AND being eco friendly? Nothing, really.
By incorporating some of these tips into your life, not only will the environment thank you, but so will your wallet!
One of the best ways to shop sustainably is by thrifting! Buying second hand is a great way to find cute clothes at low prices. Of course, thrifting is different than buying fast fashion because with thrifting, you never know what you’ll find! To ensure you find the best pieces, follow our tips below!
1. Be Patient
Since thrift stores don’t have everything in every size or style, you might end up leaving a thrift store empty handed - and that’s okay! Be patient, try to go to as many thrift stores as you can, and soon enough you will find the item of your dreams!
2. Go With an Open Mind
Instead of going thrift shopping with a very specific list, i.e. thinking, “I must find a mint green polka dot fit and flare skirt”, try thinking, “I need to find a cute skirt to wear to a dinner party” and then see what you find from there. Who knows, you might fall in love with something you never would have considered with more limited criteria!
3. Keep it Clean
Touching lots of clothes that may or may not be clean is not the best idea. Do yourself a favor and bring some hand sanitizer! Also, it is very important to wash everything you buy before you wear it. Check labels or do research to find out how to safely clean your finds!
4. Make Your Own Dressing Room
Some thrift stores (ex: Salvation Army) do not have dressing rooms. However, it is essential that you try on clothes before you buy them! Since you usually can’t return things to thrift stores, it is important to check the fit before you waste your money. You can make your own dressing rooms by putting a long, floor length skirt over your pants and then changing bottoms underneath the skirt. This allows you to try on shorts or jeans or anything that requires you take off the pants you were wearing. For tops, it is easy enough to slip them over what you are already wearing.
5. Get Creative
If you find an item that is almost perfect, get creative and alter it! You can find tailors to get the right fit, or you can hem, cut, or add length yourself. There are also lots of DIY tutorials on how to upcycle thrifted clothes, so if you love something but just need to tweak it a little, then go for it!
And there you have it! Follow these tips and your thrifting experience will be smooth sailing! Let us know in the comments what your favorite thrifting tips are!
E3’s intern, Sophia, met with Guilia Piscitelli and Serena Chang, two UCLA students who are currently vegan. Guilia is a first year pre-International Development Studies major with a possible Food Studies minor and Serena is a first year Anthropology major. Read their interview below to learn more about the process of becoming a vegan and reasons why one should consider cutting out animal products from his or her diet and lifestyle.
Finding a meaningful reason to go vegan is key to staying motivated and maintaining a vegan lifestyle. From wanting to lead a healthier lifestyle to reducing your environmental footprint, there are many good reasons to choose veganism.
Sophia: Why did you become vegan? Guilia, I know you were vegetarian first, and then were you just like, "I’m just going to go vegan?"
Guilia: I became vegetarian mostly for health and animal rights reasons, and once I became vegetarian, I started to get more educated in terms of the environmental impacts of vegetarianism. So once I became a vegetarian, I found more and more reasons to stay vegetarian. I went vegan mostly just for the environmental aspect of it, because I felt hypocritical for not being vegan.
Serena: I had taken environmental science the year before, so I learned a lot about the environmental impacts of the meat industry. I watched a lot of animal documentaries that taught me a lot about animal rights. The reason I went vegan is I was at the Nice attack, and I saw everybody running and everybody scared, so it kind of made me feel differently about suffering. It made it a lot more firsthand. Animals are experiencing this kind of torture everyday but they can’t run from it. It’s scarier when you’re trying to get away but you can’t.
Veganism is defined by The Vegan Society as “a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.” It’s more than a simple diet. It’s a lifestyle choice.
Serena: There’s a difference between being plant-based and being vegan. Being vegan is when you make the connection that eating animals and supporting animal industries is cruel and harmful to the environment.
Sophia: Did you find it hard in the beginning? Because I think when a lot of people think about being vegan they’re like, “Oh my god, I’m going to have to find so many other foods that I can eat, how is it going to work into my normal routine, I’m probably going to have to spend so much money because vegan food is so expensive,” and they think that it’s just such a hassle to be vegan.
Guilia: Well you [Serena] went straight to being vegan so that was probably harder for you.
Serena: Yeah, I went straight to being vegan, but my mom was super supportive about it, and she was really good about transitioning and making foods that were vegan friendly for me. But, I think veganism is what you make of it. There’s this idea that all vegan food is expensive, but it really doesn't have to be.
One tip that One Green Planet offers is to “crowd out, don’t cut out” foods from your diet when transitioning. Instead of restricting yourself to certain foods or thinking about all the foods you can’t buy, focus on all of the hearty foods that you can use to crowd out the animal-based ones currently in your diet.
Sophia: Guilia, was it easier for you? Going from vegetarian to vegan?
Guilia: It was definitely easier to transition, going vegetarian first, then going vegan. If I were to advise someone who was thinking about going vegan, I’d probably tell them to go vegetarian first, because I think they’d stick to it more if they do it that way. I think it’s pretty easy to be vegetarian or vegan here in California or in big cities. With all the options that are in grocery stores, it’s really not that difficult to try to at least replace some meat with vegetarian or vegan options.
Serena: Also, I think it’s not that difficult to get yourself to stop consuming animal products when you make the connection. If you're just doing it to lose weight or as a kind of diet, you’re like “Well this is something I’m doing for myself, so what’s wrong with cheating a little bit?”
Being a well-rounded vegan
Veganism doesn’t stop at paying attention to what you put in your body. What goes on your body is important as well. When shopping for clothing and shoes, be conscious of materials like leather, fur, and wool. As for cosmetics, do some research on the companies you like to find out whether they make cruelty free or vegan products. Some well known cosmetics brands that are cruelty free or vegan are Glossier, Fenty Beauty, Korres, and Yes To.
Sophia: What about clothing and other products? Do you also pay a lot of attention to that?
Serena: When I shop firsthand, yeah, I do. But when I shop secondhand, I’m more lenient about it. Still, I don’t see myself ever buying a leather jacket or a fur coat. I’m really about the cruelty free aspect of it, but I think waste is also important to think about, if you’re looking at it from an environmental impact point of view. It’s better to buy something that not quite vegan, but secondhand, rather than going out and creating more waste by getting something that is vegan but firsthand.
Guilia: Yeah, that can be a struggle. I feel like I’m contradictory sometimes with aspects like that. I’m vegan for the environment, but I shop a lot. But, at least I’m striving to be more sustainable and make less of an environmental impact.
Serena: Part of the definition for veganism is ‘to the best of your abilities.’ If you’re doing what you can, I think that’s good for now.
Sophia: Do you think you’re going to stay vegan for the rest of your life?
Sophia: What would you tell people who are hesitant about going vegan or just opposed to it?
Guilia: It’s not like an all-or-nothing thing. You don’t have to be completely vegan to make a positive impact. If you like eating chicken…
Serena: … Maybe just cut back. As for people who are opposed to being vegan, I don’t know…
Guilia: I don't understand that.
Serena: But for the people who are trying to be vegan, don’t beat yourself up if some things aren’t feasible for you. Just do it to the best of your abilities and maybe one day you’ll get to that place.
Consider the Alternatives
Straws: Stop using plastic straws. Americans use half a billion straws per day! Invest in metal or glass straws.
Utensils: Even though the utensils offered at Rende and other grab n' go places are compostable, using metal or bamboo utensils reduces waste
Cups: If you're getting water, fill up your reusable water bottle and save a cup!
Clothes: Go thrifting! Give those clothes a second life and avoid the fast fashion industry
Bags: Bring a reusable bag when you go shopping instead of using plastic/compostable bags (plus it saves money).
Feminine Hygiene Products: Menstrual cups and cloth pads are reusable alternatives for conventional tampons and pads.
BONUS: Bring your own reusable containers to restaurants to pack up your leftovers. You can save a lot of styrofoam, plastic, and cardboard from going to waste.
Reduce Water Waste
Be Mindful of Electricity Usage
Every dorm room is equipped with a trash can and a recycling bin. Take the time to separate your waste into the appropriate compost, recycling, and landfill bins.
There are composting bins in every lounge on the Hill. Almost all of the food containers from the Hill dining services are compostable. Do your part by correctly disposing of the waste you use. It might take a couple more steps to throw away your Cafe 1919 pizza box, but it can really cut down on waste.
Take the MyLastTrash pledge to help the UC reach its Zero Waste By 2020 goal!
The holiday season is finally here, and, hopefully, we’re all looking to join in the holiday cheer! However, getting involved in the holiday season can be very wasteful, especially year after year. The production and use of wrapping paper for gifts is a large source of paper waste at the end of the year, and most of it gets thrown in the trash rather than recycling. Also, many Christmas trees are cut down, and though many are grown specifically for this purpose, this is still wasteful when we cut down more trees than we replant globally. So, now, we will explore a few simple changes in your holiday season routine that can combine both your love for sustainability and holiday cheer!
❀ Gift- Wrapping ❀
A significant source of waste during the holiday season comes from gift giving. For many holidays, gifts tend to be wrapped in wrapping paper or paper bags with tissue paper, all of which gets thrown in the trash after it is ripped apart. But we don’t want to get rid of wrapping presents all together! In fact, I find that most of the fun in receiving or giving a gift can be just in the act of opening it!
So, let’s explore some ways to have more sustainably wrapped gifts this holiday season!
❀ Tree ❀
Also, you can make a "Wall Tree". These wall trees are made by arranging different materials, decorations, and lights on a wall in the shape of a Christmas tree. Test your creativity this year by finding a way to sustainably make your tree. These wall trees have several benefits. First, one less tree has to be cut down! Second, you can save space in your home, which can be especially helpful for those living in small apartments. Third, this upcoming trend can add an indie vibe to your living space and give you the chance to fully customize your tree. Fourth, it can be far cheaper than purchasing a very expensive tree.
And, finally, it can be stored easily and reused year after year!