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!