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.
Copyright © 2014 by Paul Clark (aka motomynd)

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