A couple Saturday afternoons ago, I drunkenly berated an unsuspecting guy in Centro about his coffee choices. Now, this was homecoming, so a little belligerency, while rude, was not unexpected. Now that I have offered a paltry defense for my ill-manners, you are probably wondering what about his coffee raised my ire. Am I a Starbucks diva? A black coffee snob? A patriotic double-double drinker? No. I am passionate about fair trade.
To me, it’s simple.
You can pay the same price for two products, one of which contributes to some horrific living conditions in Latin America, and one does not. Perhaps Fair Trade is not perfect: Direct Trade is being heralded as the best thing in responsible consumption these days. Nevertheless, it isn’t really about Fair Trade – it’s about the little things.
I am mystified by some people’s reticence about performing these small tasks. Sure, you may prefer the Colombian Dark to the Brazilian Dark, but really, it’s one dollar drip, not a glamorous espresso based concoction—is there that much of a difference? Perhaps to you, there is. I’m not demanding that you deny yourself the things you love. This is about the little things after all.
Let’s look at another beverage: bottled water.
Just buy a reusable water bottle already. Please, just buy a water bottle.
I understand, I really do. I admit to visiting a vending machine once in a while, and hating myself the whole time. I lose water bottles all the time, too. But each bottle I buy is a fresh chance that, maybe, this time I’ll manage to hold on to the same bottle for more than a week.
But needing water on the go, and being far from fountains, is a different issue than those who simply refuse to drink tap water. Someone who lives just down my hall takes a cab once every few weeks to load up of flats of bottles, because he will not condescend to drink Hamilton city water. I didn’t believe it when I first heard either. This is ridiculous. Some bottled water is just tap water anyway, and some does not even pass the stringent standards imposed on municipal water, so any justification beyond convenience is moot.
Small choices like these really do add up. Even simpler actions, like turning off the lights in empty rooms, buying shampoo that has not been tested on animals or even just a smile or a nod of acknowledgement at someone passing in the hallway is not by any measure strenuous.
Every decision you make is a statement. It’s a statement about your ideals, your principles and how much you care about the world around you. Think about what you’re saying.