With Easter fast approaching and my sustainable hat pulled down tightly around my ears, it is about time I confronted one of the niggling doubts I have always hidden away in the nether reaches of my mind….
Is it sustainable and ethical to purchase and eat chocolate?
You see, I am a chocolate lover.
I try to keep myself in check but I’m walking a fine line. I tell myself that by having something small, often, I will keep my urge to devour a whole block of chocolate at bay.
You’d think that I’d be over the moon to receive bucket loads of chocolate each Easter, but no, surrounded by so much chocolate at this time of year means I can’t realistically keep telling myself that it’s only a small bit here and there.
So, what is the problem with chocolate exactly?
- Approximately 95 percent of the chocolate sold today is not certified, meaning it is possible that forced labour, child labour or trafficked labour has been used in its production (Source: World Vision Cocoa Factsheet)
- The price paid to farmers by cocoa buyers are often incredibly low meaning a typical cocoa farm smallholder lives in poverty and struggles to cover costs of production therefore feeding the demand for cheap child labour
- In 2001, the global cocoa industry made a commitment to eradicate any forms of child labour, child trafficking and other labour exploitation. However, making a commitment is only part of the way of actually doing something
What’s the good news?
Some major companies have taken real steps towards producing Fairtrade Certified chocolate and only sourcing their cocoa from ethical origins. See the World Vision Chocolate Scorecard for how your favorite choccy company shapes up.
If I could just put a ‘but’ in here…..
That’s tops, it really is. But… it is surprising to note that while a lot of companies are taking steps, they will not commit to producing their entire ranges from ethically sourced cocoa.
Why the hell not?
If you can acknowledge the problem exists and it’s possible to produce chocolate in an ethical way, then why not just make all of your chocolate products from ethically sourced cocoa?
For example, Chocolate company Lindt & Sprüngli, (makers of the delicious Lindt Bunnies) state that while they have 100% trace-ability of where their cocoa comes from and they strongly condemn child labour, they are not Fairtrade Certified due to a limited supply of fair trade cocoa beans.
Hmmm….. okay but surely if the demand were for Fairtrade Certified cocoa beans only, farmers would have to respond to that demand?
What can I do?
We can create an overwhelming demand for Fairtrade Certified chocolate over uncertified chocolate by only buying certified products such as Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, and Utz Certified. Chocolate companies will respond to this demand by ensuring their future chocolate products are ethically sourced and supplied.
Visit the 10 Campaign website for more information about why you should double check your chocolate’s certification.
What sweet treats have you purchased that have since left you with a bitter taste?