I love coffee and I''m committed to making a difference, and to creating a better world So it seems obvious to combine these passions. I asked myself this question... ''How can I use my love of coffee, maybe even my addiction, to make a difference?I decided to invest the time and energy required to learn more about sustainable coffee. And to immediately do more to enlighten my coffee purchasing and consumption habits. But that in itself does not tackle the problem of global economic sustainability. In short sustainability is the problem of exponentially growing material [over] consumption beyond the capacity of the earth, to either produce or digest the waste (either as garbage or pollution) which that production creates.
I recognize that in every purchase I make I'm supporting not only a business, but a long series of businesses. I am supporting their values, beliefs and behaviors. Without my financial support they would not have a business. As a conscious consumer I get to decide which business models succeed, and which fail. Of course I can''t do this alone, but that doesn't change how I decide to make, or from who I purchase. As a conscious consumer I get to make purchasing decisions about, not what is the least expensive or the most convenient, but rather what aligns closest to my values and vision... and my taste buds. As a conscious consumer I get to make more enlightened decisions. And in order to do that I need good reliable information. But more than information I need conversation, and challenging perspectives which may or may not support with the ones I already have. I know that if I want to make a difference I am going to have to challenge myself, and the ways in which I think and behave. This is the price I must pay if I am to make a difference, challenge the status-quo and build a better future. In short conscious consumption is about me making more ethical purchasing decisions, and not decisions which simply align best with my budget and current level of addiction. Yes, unfortunately consumption is an addiction, and a very intentionally designed mechanism used to placate the masses- which would be us.
Now I find myself faced with a much more complex challenge. It's not that the coffee industry itself is unsustainable. Prices may fluctuate and farmers may come and go, but if there are consumers, the industry will remain. The industry as it stands right now does not appear to be in jeopardy of collapsing, although for sure constant or exponential growth can't continue. Exponential growth in a finite context can''t ever be sustainable. When considering sustainability I am faced with a new set of considerations; quantity, local, organic and relationship. How much coffee should I drink, if any, because sustainability is also a question of quantity. More people drinking more coffee not only puts pressure of natural resources, but forces farmers to produce coffee instead of lets say... wheat or corn. And to adopt artificial and harmful ways to speed up the production process. At the heart of sustainability lies the simple fact that local is better. Flying or shipping massive quantities of material around the planet is plain unsustainable, and by this I mean, it can not and will not continue. Of course to understand why, we would need to look a little more closely at the question of peak oil and return on energy(ERoEI - energy return on energy investment).
Organic refers to agriculture and farming methods, either a product of commercial farming methods with it's reliance on fossil fuels, top-soil mining, de-forestation and desertification ...etc, or more sustainable farming methods. But more than anything, the social economy depends on connection and relationship. As consumers we explicitly enter into relationship with the whole supply chain from farmer to retail outlet owner. And to maintain a healthy relationship we all have a responsibility and role to play, just like in a marriage.
Social Economy is a name I use to descripe that more equitable, just and sustainable future economy which we're working to create. It is also called the Connection or Sustainable Economy, which will (although it's not certain) follows the Industial Growth Economy, just as that followed the Agrarian Economy. So that got me thinking about how much coffee I should drink, even whether I should be drinking coffee at all. I know the paradox just wants to jump out and cuff you up-side the back of the head. I look forward to my journey with the HKSCF and will keep you appraised of my realizations as they unfold.Hugs, Paul.
HKCCEA was registered in accordance with the provisions of section 5A91 of the Societies Ordinance on 2010-04-16