Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Guilt-free shopping guides

By Paul Clark 
(aka motomynd)

People of a save-the-earth mindset may or may not win their battle, but there are now a multitude of places where people can support their idealism while buying life's essentials.
    A quick Google or Bing search will probably yield many options, but there are three vegan guides that I personally consider the best. The reason I stick to "vegan" shopping instead of "earth friendly" or the ubiquitous "green" that pervades the media today, is that vegan leaves no wiggle room for those more than willing to stoop to profiteering from people who mean well but don't know enough not to be fooled by clever buzz phrases. "Earth friendly un-waxed cotton clothing made in the Orient" could mean a really nice item hand-made by native craftspeople...or it could be an ad agency's clever way of saying sweatshop.
    Pangea has been a great source of many things vegan for nearly 20 years, and as you can see from their home page, they don't sell goods from China or any other places known for sweatshops.
    Vegan Essentials is another place I have dealt with for years and can highly recommend.
    People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is best known for its sensational animal rights efforts, but it maintains a website that is actually quite useful for those interested in "guilt free" living—notably its vegan shopping guide.

In the same spirit, one of the most profound conundrums many of us face in weighing cost and personal preference against what we are told is "the right thing" to do, is in choosing between our long-term favorite traditional coffee versus more costly, environmentally friendly "shade grown" varieties. If the difference in flavor is your issue, have you tried giving your whole coffee beans a little extra heat, if not a full extra roast, before you grind them, or adding a bit of cinnamon or dark chocolate as you grind them?
    If cost is your issue, well, are you willing to pay an extra 50 bucks a year to put your money where your mouth is on environmental matters, or not? Shade-grown coffee comes from a natural forest which supports bird and insect life and prevents erosion; plantation-grown coffee comes from over-engineered and chemical-laden plots that are about as environmentally friendly as expanses of genetically-modified corn that are sprayed twice a month by crop-dusting planes. One of the great ironies of shade-grown coffee is that just about all the original coffee trees brought to the New World had to be grown in the shade because their leaves burned in the sun; the rush to create varieties of coffee that can grow in full sun has occurred in the past three or four decades as the push for more short-term profits has begun to outweigh the long-term concern for the habitat.
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Copyright © 2014 by Paul Clark (aka motomynd)

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6 comments:

  1. Welcome back Moto! If even only for a brief stay... I've not yet checked out these sites, but will have a look. May I add to your list Global Exchange: [http://www.globalexchange.org/]. I've done some fundraising for them in the past, and think they're good people.

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    1. Tom, yes indeed, Global Exchange does seem to involve good people. I didn't mention them because I did not realize they had a retail operation.

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  2. Paul, thank you very much for recommending websites for shopping for life's necessities and avoiding products that harm the earth, violate animals' rights, or were made in sweatshops. I need to make these recommendation into a page in the blog's "Permanent Collection," along with Jim Rix's "red herrings" on the "healthcare biz."

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    1. Done. That is, I just added a page titled "Guilt-free Shopping Guides" topmost in the blog's :Permanent Collection." Its contents are shown in the sidebar, just above "Archives."
          I'll wait until Jim has provided a few more red herrings to create a page for them.

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  3. Like Tom said good to hear you on the blog again. I was going to say something cute like the only link I have is to the steakhouse downtown, but with the number of minutes of sleep you are getting, I was afraid you might not see the intended humor. You need to come around more often[smiley face]

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    1. The little guy is now seven weeks old and actually allowed me five hours sleep two nights in a row, even if I did have to slip them in 2 1/2 hours at a time. I feel so rested I'm almost giddy.

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