World Vision

World Vision Australia's youth movement

Did you have a #sweeteaster?

April 5, 2015 By vgen

Easter collage

There’s only one thing that tastes better than the smooth seduction of your favourite chocolate- and that’s when your favourite chocolate happens to be fair-trade!

Australians put away between $1.3 and $3 billion dollars of chocolate every year. That’s a lot of calorie-laden chances to make the ethical decision when it comes to how our chocolate is sourced. But unfortunately, for every $140 the average Australian spends on Easter chocolate each year, only $10 will come from ethical, fair-trade suppliers.

Here are the unsweetened facts of the matter:

– Across Ghana and the Ivory Coast, there are an estimated 1.5 to 2 million small cocoa farms.
– Farmers who do not own their land must give high proportions of their profits to the land owner, meaning little is left to pay for basic necessities like food, shelter and healthcare.
– Cocoa buyers often pay incredibly low prices to farmers. Hampered by limited bargaining power, farmers must accept whatever price they are offered.
– Often children must work to harvest cocoa to help support their families.
– Children as young as six years old work on cocoa farms under extremely hazardous conditions. Carrying heavy loads, using machetes to clear land and inhaling harmful pesticides are all in a day’s work.

Sometimes it’s easy for us to forget the journey our food makes before it reaches our mouths. But it all starts with demystifying the supply chain our consumption follows, and finding out exactly where we fit within it. So, by making an ethical choice about the chocolate you buy, you are sending a strong message to our companies that child labour doesn’t taste too good to you. That you demand goods, which don’t compromise on product quality OR the quality of life of those who make, grow or source it.

VGen university groups across the country engaged in an amazing online activism campaign, rallying their families and friends to be a #goodegg, #goethical and have a #sweeteaster. Why? So that children around the world can be unconstrained by labour far beyond their capabilities and to claim their right to be a kid. Our university leaders mobilised their VGen groups and students throughout their campuses in a variety of ways. VGen NSW took to their schools and unis and had some life-changing conversations around the link between fair trade consumption and ending child labour. VGen South Australia weren’t satisfied with being confined to their campuses, and headed to Coles in partnership with Oaktree and engaged in meetings with the local managers. The supermarket duopoly plays a massive part in creating change around consumption. But if they don’t stock enough ethical alternatives, it’s all the harder for people to make the switch. The meetings were a great success, with workers then speaking to upper management about the issue.

Young people were then encouraged to blast social media with socially conscious selfies featuring their fair-trade bounties to send out the message loud and clear that ethical consumption, taste and affordability don’t have to be in opposition. So, through our actions on Insta, and in our universities and local communities, we turned that $10 into thousands of dollars being driven towards brands which make a deliciously ethical difference. It goes to show the power of a conversation is worth having

University students may want to use their consumer power for social good, but we know that power can seem awfully limited when mi goreng may be your typical kitchen staple. But the reality is that fair-trade products don’t have to break the bank; it’s all about doing your research. To help our VGenners out, we disseminated the Ethical Chocolate Guide across social media and through our university events. Check it out; Easter may be over but our challenge still stands. Be bold enough to ask the question: ‘who do I have to thank for my sugar fix?’ Chances are, they aren’t getting the reward for their work that they deserve.

This campaign was a wonderful success and a rallying example of what our collective consumer power can look like when we unite together- a brightly coloured collage of voices (and dollars) voting for a better, fairer world. But it’s important that our activism stays strong even outside the holiday season. What if we chose ethical chocolate not just at Easter, but also year-round? Think of it as chocoholic collective action. Sounds as good as it would taste.

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