Free coffee wakes up fair trade awareness

Students can learn about fair trade and how to help developing countries this week with free coffee.

Members of the Fair Trade and Global Justice committee will hand out free fair trade coffee, grown in Guatemala and Mexico, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday in Coleman Hall.

The Java Beanery and Bakery will be promoted because the coffee they use is fair trade coffee.

“We are promoting that over going to Starbucks,” said Daniel Rolando, a senior psychics and economics major. “We are reaching out to student and faculty; there’s a love of coffee on both sides.”

Farmers who grow coffee get more compensation for their work when the coffee is made fair trade.

“Farmers can get more money for their crops and a fair wage for what they are doing,” Rolando said. “They still need to make a living.”

The committee will also sell fair trade products such as jewelry, scarves, wristbands, wall decorations and folk art Wednesday in the South Quad.

The money accumulated by the sale of these crafts will go to the actual makers of the goods instead of through third parties.

John Taylor, from the Catholic Relief Services, will speak about fair trade Thursday, and the movie “Blood Diamond,” about extracting diamonds in developing countries, will be shown today.

Taylor has been in Kenya, Mexico and other developing countries and will speak about his work.

Rolando wants students to realize how important buying fair trade is to the citizens of developing countries.

“For me, personally, the biggest problem I see is the income and poverty gap, the rich continue to get richer and the poor continue to get poorer,” Rolando said.

Doris Nordin, the head of the student volunteer center at the Newman Catholic Center, said she does not like how workers in developed countries are treated and wants awareness of the challenges facing developing countries to increase and students to consider buying more fair trade products in the future.

“Too often people from the developing world are exploited,” Nordin said. “Either their work, their land or their resources andbecause they have little relative power, they are not fairly compensated.”

The committee is handing out and selling fair trade products to get students to understand how fair trade gives product makers their fair dues, instead of the money being used to pay someone else’s salaries when going through a large company or corporation.

“Also, fair trade products are more environmentally friendly,” Rolando said.

Gerald Cotiangco, a senior foreign languages major and member of the committee, said learning about fair trade is part of becoming an informed and responsible consumer.

“With fair trade, there is more of an emphasis on where things come from. We have power as consumers,” Cotiangco said. “If we choose products that are made ethically, we are somehow acting ethically.”

Heather Holm can be reached at 581-7942 or [email protected]