News Article | November 26, 2016
Coffee is the lifeblood of modern life, and there's nothing quite like home-made coffee from a proper machine. The catch? Coffee machines ain't cheap. Unless, that is, it's Black Friday and prices are being ground like so many espresso beans. Read on and keep popping back for all the best deals as they percolate through. Russell Hobbs: get the Russell Hobbs 20770 Purity Coffee Maker Metallic 1.3L 950W for £38.99 at Tesco Direct - a saving of £41. Krups: the Dolce Gusto by Krups Melody 3 Hot Drinks Machine makes perfect coffee, tea and hot chocolate, and is now on sale for £29.99 at Amazon.co.uk - a saving of £40.22. Lakeland: get the Lakeland Red 2-cup Compact Filter Coffee Machine - incredible value at £12.49 (that's half price). Lavazza: grab the chic Lavazza A Modo Mio Minù Coffee Maker for £39 at Lakeland in white or red - reduced from £69.99. Alternatively, pick it up for £39.99 from John Lewis with a free milk frother. Bosch: enjoy smooth Costa coffee at home with the Bosch Tassimo Amia TAS2002gb Hot Drinks Machine . Bosch: fancy your morning coffee with an extra shot of colour? The Bosch Tassimo Vivy II TAS1255GB Hot Drinks Machine is available in , and for £34.99 at Currys, including a two-year guarantee - a saving of £45. Krups: enjoy your coffee in style with the streamlined Nescafé Dolce Gusto Oblo Coffee Machine by Krups, down to £37.99 on Amazon.co.uk - a saving of £52. It's temporarily out of stock, but order now and it'll be delivered when more arrive in Amazon's warehouse. Krups: the Krups Dolce Gusto Melody 3 manual coffee machine is on sale at Amazon.co.uk for £37.99. Again, it's temporarily out of stock, but order now and it'll be delivered when more arrive in Amazon's warehouse. Tassimo: the sleek Tassimo T55 Charmy BRITA Filter Multi Drinks Machine is less than half price at Argos - down to £59.99. De'Longhi: snap up the Nespresso EN520 Lattissima + Coffee Machine by De'Longhi for £99.95 at John Lewis (an £80 saving) and claim a £75 Nespresso Club Reward. Krups: get the Nespresso U Coffee Machine with Aeroccino by Krups for £119.95 at John Lewis (that's £40 off) and claim a £75 Nespresso Club Reward. De'Longhi: get the De'Longhi ESAM3000.B Magnifica Bean-to-Cup Coffee Machine and enjoy a taste of Italy for £279.95 from John Lewis - £50 off. Ninja: not just a coffee machine - a whole coffee bar for your kitchen. Get the smart, sleek Ninja CF060UK Coffee Machine or John Lewis. Lavazza: the Lavazza A Modo Mio Jolie Espresso Coffee Machine makes a wonderful Italian-style espresso, and comes in a range of cheery colours including blue, red and white - all for £49.95 at John Lewis. De'Longhi: the De'Longhi Nespresso Lattissima+ Coffee Machine is down to £99.95 at John Lewis. That's an £80 saving, and there's a £75 Nespresso Club Reward thrown in too. Excelvan: get the authentic coffee shop experience with the Excelvan 15 Bar Pump Espresso Italian Style Coffee Machine - Hot Drinks, Cappuccino & Coffee Maker 850W - down to £60.99 at Amazon.co.uk (a saving of £59). Bosch: enjoy over 40 different drinks from brands including Oreo, Cadbury's and Costa with the Bosch Tassimo TAS5542GB Hot Drinks and Coffee Machine - - a saving of £80! De'Longhi: grab the superb De'Longhi ESAM2800 Fully Automatic 1450W Bean to Cup Machine in Silver & Black and enjoy delicious coffee at the push of a button. It's £174.99 on Ebay.co.uk - that's a £66 saving on the usual price! Bosch: get cafe-quality tea, coffee, hot chocolate and other drinks whenever you like with the Bosch TAS4502GB Tassimo Joy 2 Hot Drinks and Coffee Machine - reduced to £59.99 at Amazon.co.uk. That's a saving of £80! Lavazza: make yours a latte with £50 off the Lavazza A Modo Mio Fantasia LM7000 Cappuccino Latte Coffee Machine - now reduced to £109.95 at John Lewis . The saving applies to the cream and black models. Morphy Richards: fancy an espresso? The Morphy Richards 172004 Accents Espresso Coffee Maker is . That's less than half price! De'Longhi: the De'Longhi EC271 Espresso Pump Coffee Machine is down to £44.99 at Currys - a saving of £85! De'Longhi: the Nespresso by De'Longhi EN521.R Lattissima+ Coffee Machine makes beautiful creamy cappuccinos, and is less than half price for £99 at AO.com. De'Longhi: make delicious coffee from beans or grounds using the De'Longhi Magnifica ECAM22.113.B Bean to Cup Coffee Machine - now half price for £249 at AO.com. De'Longhi: the super-stylish De'Longhi Magnifica ESAM4000.B Bean to Cup Coffee Machine makes two shots at once, with a heater to keep water at the perfect temperature and a built-in milk frother. Get it for £199 at Amazon.co.uk - a saving of £250.99! De'Longhi: the Nescafé Dolce Gusto Genio 2 Automatic Play and Select couldn't be easier to use, and it's half price for . It's temporarily out of stock, but order now and you'll get it when Amazon receives a new delivery at its warehouse. Jura: pick up the Jura F85 Bean-to-Cup Coffee Machine for £699.99 from John Lewis and save £300. Melitta: get the Melitta Caffeo Compact Coffee Machine - was £389.99, . De'Longhi: the De’Longhi ESAM650.75 PrimaDonna Elite Bean-to-Cup Coffee Machine is a state-of-the-art coffee machine that connects to your smartphone so you can select and create your perfect drink with a couple of taps. It's £1,350 at John Lewis, and comes with six thermal glasses, a coffee taster pack, six months of descaler and free machine servicing. Krups: the Krups Espresseria Automatic EA81 Series Bean to Cup Coffee Machine cleans and de-scales itself once it's finished preparing your delicious coffee to your exact specifications. Get it for £250 at IWOOT - a saving of £249. De'Longhi: if you're serious about your coffee, the De'Longhi Magnifica S ECAM 22.360.S Bean to Cup coffee machine is the one for you. This multi-function coffee maker with built-in grinder and milk-frother is . The same model without the milk jug is £299 at Currys. Sage by Heston: if your budget won't quite run to the Oracle (above), the The Sage by Heston Blumenthal Barista Express Bean-to-Cup Coffee Machine also delivers beautiful coffee every time for £494 at IWOOT. Lavazza milk frother: For the perfect cappuccino, get the Lavazza milk frother in black for £28.50 at Lakeland - that's less than half price. Tassimo Latte capsules: Buying a new coffee machine that takes pods? Grab a bag of 80 Tassimo Costa Latte pods (80 pods, 40 servings) for £15 from Amazon.co.uk. Smooth and creamy - just like you'd get at Costa on the high street. Lavazza Espresso capsules: Get a pack of 16 Lavazza A Modo Mio Qualita Rossa Espresso capsules for just £3 at John Lewis. They make a coffee that's rich, spicy and delicious! Lavazza Espresso capsules: Variety is the spice of life, so why not grab a pack of Lavazza A Modo Mio Cereja Passita Brazil Espresso Capsules too? They're Rainforest Alliance certified, and have notes of sweet honey and chocolate. A pack of 12 is a snip for £3 at John Lewis. Lavazza Espresso capsules: If you prefer your coffee light and floral, try the Lavazza A Modo Mio Selva Alta Peru Espresso Capsules. Grown on the slopes of the Andes and yours for £3 for 12 at John Lewis.
News Article | March 1, 2017
Thanks to this town’s proximity to a virtual airborne highway, aviary attractions in Summerville, SC have taken flight. Just in time for spring migration season – of both the avian and human variety – Summerville’s local merchants and naturalists are celebrating the season. This town just 25 miles from Charleston has built a bevy of avian activities that will have tourists flocking to “Flowertown” from March through May. Tourists can explore and celebrate wonderful feathered creatures in several ways that appeal to the artistic and active, the avid and the amateur. The town may be onto something. Of the 47 million Americans who avidly bird watch, nearly 18 million observe birds away from home annually, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service report – Birding in the United States: A Demographic and Economic Analysis. With its tree-lined residential streets, nearby plantations and sprawling forests, Summerville offers a promising habitat for natural resources to thrive. The town spans a prime section of the Southeast’s extensive natural aviary habitat that is home (permanently and sporadically) to countless species of birds and other wildlife. Among the themed calendar items are guided birding walks in historic downtown Summerville and nearby Beidler Forest, a special (Prothonotary) “Warbler Blend” Coffee, bird-themed painting nights at Wine & Design, Night Flight Yoga followed by a flight of beer, the downtown B.I.R.D.S. Sculpture Trail, and even more. Downtown Summerville Guided Birding Walks Staff from the National Audubon Society's Francis Beidler Forest offer free, guided walks in Summerville on the second and third Saturdays in the spring and fall. In the spring, the group is given special access to the yet-to-be-developed, 80-acre Ashley River Park that offers a variety of habitats. Painted Buntings at Summerville’s 7-mile Sawmill Branch Trail On the third Saturdays in the spring, guided walks explore the popular Sawmill Branch Trail. This walking and biking trail offers several great birding locations, and is one of the best places in the area to see the beautiful Painted Bunting. Walks are FREE and occur from 8 a.m. – 10 a.m. No registration is required. A limited number of binoculars will be available for use. More: http://sc.audubon.org/activities/guided-bird-walks Night Flight Yoga Strike an eagle or a crow pose! A leisurely walk at Beidler Forest will warm you up for Night Flight Yoga scheduled for the first and third Wednesdays of the month during migration season. Yoga happens in the warehouse at Coastal Coffee Roasters, which offers a beer flight for yoga participants following the class. Wine, soda or kombucha tea flights are available as well. Stretch Your Creative Wings Sit and sip with family or friends while painting beautiful birds at Summerville’s Wine & Design. Alight at 138 South Main Street on the first and third Thursdays of the month during migration season for a bird-themed painting night. More: https://www.wineanddesign.com/locations/summerville Sculpture Lovers: B.I.R.D.S. - Birds in Residence Downtown Summerville Visitors can “catch” more than 22 life-size bird sculptures in the open air on a walk through Historic Downtown Summerville. Birders and art lovers appreciate the chance to catch a glimpse of some of the region’s most recognizable birds in still form at stations throughout town. Born as a public art initiative to get people searching and discovering downtown Summerville, the collection includes: Barred Owl, Mourning Dove, Nuthatch, Chickadees, Bluebirds, Geese, Cardinal, Mississippi Kite and more. More: http://sculptureinthesouth.com/perm-birds.html In the world of real estate, success comes from location, location, location. The same can be said of Summerville’s avian tourism push. Much of the town’s activity links to its proximity to a world-class bird habitat, The National Audubon Society's Francis Beidler Forest. Recently named the No. 5 birding destination in the country by USA Today’s 10Best, the forest’s Four Holes Swamp is one of only 1,890 sites worldwide to receive global recognition as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance. More: http://sc.audubon.org/chapters-centers/audubon-center-sanctuary-francis-beidler-forest The undisputed headliner of this old-growth cypress-tupelo swamp is the Prothonotary Warbler, a brilliant yellow-orange swamp dweller. Other species sightings reported at the 16,000-acre environment – which is threaded through with a 1.75-mile boardwalk – include: the Great Blue Heron, Golden-Crowned Kinglet, Pine Warbler, Northern Cardinal, Pileated Woodpecker, Mississippi Kike, Hooded Merganser, White Ibis, Red-Shouldered Hawk, Carolina Wren, Tufted Titmouse, Painted Bunting, and Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron, among many others. (There have been some reported sightings of the elusive Swainson’s Warbler.) The park provides a free boardwalk-specific app for iPhones to help guide your adventure at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/beidler-forest/id360958025?mt=8 Warbler Blend Coffee This coffee from local Coastal Coffee Roasters is exclusively sold at Francis Beidler Forest. Grab a bag before embarking on the boardwalk. Warbler Blend is made from beans on trees where Prothonotary Warblers nest in Colombia, before returning stateside. The blend is Rainforest Alliance-approved, and meets the rigorous environmental and social standards of the alliance. All proceeds benefit Project PROTHO, a program that recruits citizen scientists to help Beidler learn more about the warblers’ breeding biology.
News Article | November 10, 2016
Stamford, Conn., Nov. 10, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Boxwood Means, LLC, a leading provider of property valuations and data analytics in the U.S. small-cap commercial real estate market, is pleased to announce that it is pledging a percentage of its SmallBalance.com revenues to environmental causes. Boxwood is committed to the efforts of nonprofits to protect and sustain the earth for future generations. Climate change is a particular concern because of its damaging effects on the environment and communities throughout the world. As a result, the firm is pledging $1.00 to environmental causes from every property valuation order received from clients on SmallBalance.com. SmallBalance.com is Boxwood’s online platform where over 150 commercial banks, nonbank lenders, mortgage brokers and investors order evaluations and appraisals of small commercial real estate properties nationwide. Clients use Boxwood’s property valuations for originating loans, as well as for loan extensions and renewals, credit reviews and portfolio monitoring. “Our firm was founded 13 years ago and, as a team, we’re extremely proud to be in a position to support this environmental giving program,” said Randy Fuchs, a Boxwood principal and co-founder. “Naturally our commitment to delivering high-quality service to clients remains our top priority, but this initiative adds new meaning to the work we do.” Boxwood has selected 10 “blue-chip” organizations for donations on an equitable basis including The Nature Conservancy, Friends of the Earth, Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resource Defense Council and the Rainforest Alliance, among others. Donations will be made on a continual basis throughout the year. “We all feel a responsibility for giving back,” said David Colonna, Boxwood’s sales director. “And we trust that our clients will appreciate the modest role and responsibility that we’ve undertaken in support of sustaining the globe for future generations.” ****** Boxwood Means, LLC (www.Boxwoodmeans.com) is a Stamford, Conn. -based real estate valuation, and data analytics firm supporting the commercial property investment and risk management needs of a diverse base of commercial mortgage lenders, and investment and services firms. Boxwood owns and operates SmallBalance.com, its client-service web site for obtaining collateral valuation products, data analytics and research in the small commercial property and loan markets.
News Article | March 4, 2016
Where do flowers come from? It’s kind of a funny question to ponder, because many of us don’t know. Of course, we all know that flowers are a part of a plant. We all know plants grow in the ground. We all know those gorgeous, long-stemmed roses you give your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day don’t grow in the florist’s shop. But we don’t think about their origin. About 90% of all roses are grown on flower farms in South America, with Colombia and Ecuador in the lead, and many of the ferns surrounding those roses come from Costa Rica or Guatemala. In South and Central America, floriculture represents thousands of jobs, often for women, and is a thriving industry. In fact, Americans spend about $1.9 billion on Valentine’s Day flowers. Your lovely holiday bouquet contributes to an important source of income for thousands of people in the tropics. But because flowers are not grown for food (at least, not usually), the floriculture industry is not as closely regulated by governments as other crops. Flower farmers tend to use liberal doses of toxic pesticides and other agrochemicals to boost plant productivity. In some instances, the governments of countries importing the flowers actually require extensive pesticide use to ensure flowers are free of pests when they arrive. This agrochemical use comes at a huge price to the farm workers, their families and communities, and local water systems. As agrochemicals circulate through the waterways, drinking water supplies can become contaminated, which in turn negatively affects the health of local communities. They can also impact the health of the vibrant aquatic and stream-side habitats, disrupting life cycles of the plants and animals that live in those ecosystems. The soil on and near the farm also suffers. We’re only just beginning to understand the incredibly important role soil plays in terms of regulating climate and sequestering atmospheric carbon—not to mention the complicated symbiotic relationship between microorganisms in the soil and plants. But when agrochemicals are introduced into this delicate environment, the whole system is compromised. It’s safe to say traditional flower agriculture may not be the best of ways to grow a rose. Thankfully, there is an alternative. Over the course of four years, we at the Rainforest Alliance worked with the Sustainable Agriculture Network to develop strict sustainability requirements for farms. Farms that adhere to these requirements actively protect worker health, minimize agrochemical use, and work to keep soil and waterways clean. At Ipanema Farms in Colombia, for example, you can see the beneficial effects of using these sustainable practices from your first step onto the farm. Just outside the rows of multicolored roses, you can see the rich, biodiverse reservoirs the farm established to provide habitat for wildlife. These fish serve as water quality indicators—the moment the fish start dying, farm managers know something is wrong and can work toward solving the problem. Also found on the farm is the rare tingua bird, considered endangered by the IUCN—and another sign of booming biodiversity. Ipanema Farms employs more than 3,000 people—and around Valentine’s Day, that number swells to almost 4,500. Each employee has access to medical care, a critical criteria of the sustainability standards. Workers can also bring their young children with them, knowing that they’ll be looked after at the daycare and school center on the farm’s premises. Because the farm adheres to the sustainability requirements, pesticides are used only when absolutely necessary, when all other forms of pest control have been tried. This keeps a huge amount of dangerous chemicals out of the water system, soil, and away from farm workers. And ultimately, it produces a healthier, higher-quality product—a rose that comes from a hardy, resilient plant. For Valentine’s Day, Ipanema Farms exports 30 million roses to the United States. Ipanema Farms is not an isolated example. Sustainable floriculture is happening all over the tropics, from Costa Rica to Ecuador to Kenya—and at all different scales, too. At Flores y Plantas Ornementales in Costa Rica, another certified farm, nearly 4,500 tons of tropical flowers are exported each year. In Kenya, certified flowers from smallholder famers move up the value chain to major retailers in Europe. Currently, about 2,800 acres of flower farms worldwide are using these sustainable practices. That’s about 78 billion flowers. These farms’ sustainable agriculture practices go beyond worker health, soil and water health, and protecting biodiversity, though those are all very important. By keeping natural systems in balance, giving and taking from the land in a symbiotic fashion and by producing a high-quality product, these farms increase their long-term business viability. This ensures a good working environment and quality of life for their employees—and their employees’ families. So when you give your Valentine a certified bouquet, consider the fact that those flowers are also supporting families, sustainable agriculture practices, and wildlife.
News Article | December 15, 2016
First in a series on tackling global poverty while protecting the environment. Read the intro. For the one in 10 people around the world living on less than $2 a day, life is an emergency. Every day, poverty kills an estimated 15,000 children under the age of 5. The world’s ambulance is growth. To save those kids, countries need higher incomes, more medical clinics, modern water pipes, and sewage treatment plants. Switch on the sirens and go screaming down the superhighway of economic growth, however, and the world will spew out enough greenhouse gas emissions to put millions of lives at risk from pollution and climate change. There’s no way poor countries are going to stop and wait until they figure out a zero-carbon route out of poverty — and they shouldn’t. But what if they could slow down just a little bit, and cut way down on emissions? That would look a lot like Costa Rica. A few months ago, I got a chance to see for myself. On a clear sunny day, I found myself jolting up a country road in Costa Rica. It definitely wasn’t the aforementioned superhighway — it was a bumpy pass that went straight up a mountain. I was traveling in the coffee-growing highlands on a trip organized and paid for by the Rainforest Alliance — it certifies sustainable foods (you’ve probably seen its frog stamp of approval) and had flown out a batch of journalists to show us how it’s done. As we bumped up improbable roads, I found myself looking out over the steepest fields I had ever seen. Coffee trees clung to the mountainsides, up one vertiginous slope and down another. As we crested a ridge and looked ahead to the next, I thought about how difficult it would be for families who owned these farms to get their kids to schools and doctors’ appointments, or even to get electricity out to homes. But at that moment, I spotted a pole bearing wires. When we stopped in the next tiny hamlet, I poked my head in a church. It had electric lights. We were still on the grid. Costa Rica is well into the transformation from a poor subsistence farming economy to an affluent modern economy. There’s cellphone service just about everywhere. The literacy rate is 97.8 percent. The country has universal health care and vaccination rates higher than the United States. Just 1.7 percent of households lack potable water. Statistically, even the poorest residents are comparatively healthy. The average Costa Rican lives a little longer than the average person in the United States. The median income is around $7,000 a year — not much compared to the median of $56,000 a year in the United States, but enough to stay well fed. Throughout history, whenever a country escapes poverty, a bunch of things happen at once. Some farmers start growing more food, while others move to cities. Farming goes from being the primary occupation to a pretty unusual job. Eventually, after people have moved to high-tech jobs, like making microchips or writing code, the economy’s footprint shrinks. Forest cover increases. Incomes rise. Birth and death rates drop. Economists call this the “structural transformation,” and it’s important enough that we’ve devoted an entire piece explaining it. The evidence is overwhelming: “Indeed, if history is any guide, no escape from hunger and poverty has been sustainable without a successful structural transformation,” wrote the economic historian, Peter Timmer. Usually a country in the throes of this transformation also trashes the environment along the way. But not Costa Rica; the country has accomplished all of this without adding much gas to the global greenhouse. Costa Ricans create a tenth of the emissions of people in the United States, and that’s not just because they are poorer. The economy runs cleaner: It takes half as much carbon to produce the same amount of goods and services in Costa Rica as it does in the United States. The country aims to be carbon neutral by 2021. Its electrical grid has been running for months on end on clean energy. So if we look to Costa Rica as a model for other countries that want to tackle poverty sustainably, what can we learn? When I finally got off that terrifying road, I walked into a steep field owned by two brothers, Jonathan and David Vega Cerdas. Rows of chest-high coffee trees ran along the contour lines. Taller trees and banana plants provided dappled shade. The slope dropped away to a gray-green reservoir far below: one of the country’s many hydroelectric dams, I would later learn. Jonathan is older and cheery — he had recently gotten married and started his own family. David is quiet, with a shy wit — he’s a dirt-bike enthusiast, and when I asked if he was married, he joked that he was married to his motorcycle. Their farm is small, just 7.5 acres, which is typical of this region in the Tarrazú mountains south of the capital. Jonathan and David’s father had worked in the United States, and returned with enough money to buy the land. There are a lot of small plots like this one in Costa Rica because the government gave land to citizens starting in the 1800s and continuing through the 1960s. This formed a large population of yeoman farmers. Distributing land was a cheap form of welfare — it gave poor people a way to make a living and control their own destiny. It also gave them a say in politics. Countries dominated by a few elites employing an underclass of laborers tend to respond to the complaints of the poor with violence. But in Costa Rica, “relatively equal land distribution, access to unclaimed crown lands for poor farmers, and the lack of an easily exploitable indigenous population produced a large class of free farmers unused to subjugation by the colony’s leading families,” write historians Christine Wade, John Booth, and Thomas Walker in Understanding Central America (all following historical references come from this source). Land distribution helped the poor, but hurt the environment: In the 1970s, Costa Rica had one of the highest deforestation rates in the world. Because it had a relatively democratic government, Costa Rica poured money into education, health, and agriculture, starting before 1900. This allowed small farmers to build up savings and send their children to school. The government investment was spread fairly equitably. That’s a key difference between Costa Rica and countries that trashed the environment while moving out of poverty. In many countries, as economies grow, a few people capture the wealth while the rest remain desperately poor. And so those countries are stuck longer in the ugly, polluting period of economic immaturity: In the countryside, hungry people knock down forests to survive; in the city, the people laboring the smokestacks are mostly too desperate to advocate for better conditions, explains Princeton economist Angus Deaton in his book The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality. For example, in England’s industrial revolution, writes Deaton, the Dickensian conditions of the “dark, satanic mills,” weren’t miserable because industrialization was bad, but because the government failed to provide clean water and toilets for laborers. Peasants moving to factory jobs in the cities got higher incomes, but they also got cholera. But in Costa Rica, people moving to cities already had some money, skills, and education. Those who stayed on the farms also got more money and education, and they organized to endow themselves with greater economic and political power. The Vega brothers, for instance, are part of a cooperative of some 400 farmers, called CoopeTarrazú, which processes and markets its own beans. Farmers acting on their own only get a tiny share of the final market price for their crops, but the members of CoopeTarrazú are able to get more money for their work because they collectively own most of the value chain for their coffee. They grow it, collect it, clean and dry it, and sell the beans to companies like Caribou Coffee. Their coffee collective is also a potent political force. “The government doesn’t do anything affecting coffee without consulting us,” said Félix Monge, CoopeTarrazú’s field and business manager. It’s institutions like this that push politicians to take care of the people they represent. Government or nonprofit investment in agriculture doesn’t go very far if their agents have to talk to small farmers one at a time. That’s a major challenge for farmer education efforts around the world, Melinda Smale, a professor of international development at Michigan State, told me. But when farmers work together, it becomes much easier to help them improve their techniques. The Rainforest Alliance had taken me to see the Vega brothers because the group had worked with CoopeTarrazú agronomists to zero in on better forms of management. They planted nitrogen-fixing trees, cut back on their pesticide use, and dug soil amendments into their fields. Their father thought they were crazy, and neighbors who saw the diversity of trees beginning to rise over the farm jokingly asked if they were growing coffee or a forest. But these methods allowed the brothers to double their yields while cutting their fertilizer use in half. When you make just enough to get by, it’s hard to take a risk on new, supposedly more sustainable techniques. The development of institutions in Costa Rica — like farmers’ cooperatives and a stable government — has allowed more rapid diffusion of new ideas and technologies to lots of small farmers. More than half of the farmer-members of CoopeTarrazú have earned the Rainforest Alliance certification for sustainability. There are a lot of things about Costa Rica worth copying, but there are also ways in which it’s a horrible role model. The country has a history of yeoman farmers in part because the colonial Spanish almost completely killed off the indigenous people. In other parts of the Americas, colonial powers enslaved or exploited the people they colonized. But in Costa Rica, the colonists had to do the farming themselves. This put the country on a more democratic track than its neighbors, but for the worst possible reasons. Costa Rica also got lucky during the Cold War. While foreign meddling wreaked havoc in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Honduras, U.S. interference in Costa Rica came mostly in the form of money. The United States paid Costa Rica over a billion dollars in the 1980s to allow the Contras (Nicaraguan counterrevolutionaries) to set up bases within its border. This money allowed the country to keep its safety net relatively intact through a severe recession. Costa Rica got aid that stabilized the democratic government, while its neighbors got coups. That’s not a model other countries can follow. But there’s an obvious lesson for wealthy countries seeking to help: Using poor countries for proxy wars increases poverty and environmental depredation; providing aid money can do just the opposite. On my visit to Costa Rica, we spent hours inching across the capital city San José, guided through narrow surface streets using the app Waze. It’s popular in Costa Rica because the obvious routes are frequently locked with traffic. As the country moved from a primarily agricultural economy to a manufacturing and service economy, people left their farms for San José. They took jobs making microchips and medical devices for international corporations that came looking for an educated workforce. But the country failed to provide mass transit options to get these commuters to work. So people bought cars. Today, transportation is a growing source of pollution. That’s not the end of the country’s infrastructure woes: The electrical lines that impressed me so much are aging, and many towns need new sewage treatment plants. Costa Rica’s deteriorating infrastructure is a turnoff for international companies looking for a place to set up shop. Costa Rica’s green image is clearly a selling point for companies: All you have to do is move there and: Boom! You’re running on nearly 100 percent renewable electricity. That green reputation also draws thousands of tourists. But tourism and foreign corporations aren’t enough for a vibrant economy. For real stability and green prosperity, Costa Rica will need more homegrown companies. In theory, after you use tax breaks to lure in a company like Intel, as Costa Rica did in 1997, new companies start to spring up around it. Perhaps someone opens shop next door to provide parts. Perhaps locals — who saw a need for something new while working at Intel — found startups. In other words, you get businesses that spawn businesses, jobs that spawn more jobs. Some of that has happened, but not as much as many had hoped. And there are major problems with courting foreign corporations with tax breaks. If corporations aren’t paying taxes, it means countries have less money for infrastructure and education. It’s also risky: Jobs that come quickly can leave quickly. In 2014, Intel closed its largest operation in Costa Rica. Costa Rica has a long way to go, but it’s still a worthy role model for pulling populations out of poverty. If Namibia or Haiti could look like Costa Rica in terms of prosperity and sustainability, we’d be cheering. When people talk about policies for developing countries, the debate over free trade tends to dominate the conversation, but setting that aside for now, there are bigger questions with clearer answers. How do you go from growing beans and corn and chopping down your forests to manufacturing computer chips and leading eco tours? What are the keys to this green structural transformation? The history of Central America I cited above notes that Costa Rica has repeatedly done better than its neighbors. Why? All the reasons listed above boil down to governance. The democracy managed to keep investing in the people, rather than allowing a few powerful people to direct policies to their own end. At least, if you look at the big picture. At the end of my trip to Costa Rica, I got a very small-picture reminder that the country still has a way to go: One after another, my group of journalists and Rainforest Alliance workers turned green and went running for the bathroom. We’d probably slurped up some bug in the water. I waddled onto the airplane back to the United States clutching a box of anti-diarrheal pills. It’s easy enough to find vomit-inducing examples of bad governance — or bad water systems — in Costa Rica. But the national statistics, and my overwhelmingly positive impressions of the country, suggest it’s doing something right: healing the environment by helping the people. If more countries follow something like Costa Rica’s path, there’s real hope that people around the world could make it onto the ambulance out of immiserating poverty while also improving the world for future generations. In the next installment I’ll take a step back and lay out the evidence for hope in 10 charts — it’s entirely possible to for the people in the greatest peril to become prosperous while simultaneously shrinking their footprint on the land.
News Article | October 28, 2016
Chicago based digital printer, Sunrise Hitek is pleased to announce that their facility has received FSC Certification from the Rainforest Alliance https://www.sunrisehitek.com/page/welcome. This certification encourages sustainability and responsible foresting practices.
News Article | April 28, 2016
The Rainforest Alliance and SAN look back at the accomplishments and limitations of their agricultural certifications.
News Article | December 1, 2016
The Rainforest Alliance wants to fight climate change by taking sustainable agriculture to a global scale.
News Article | December 21, 2016
Teatulia Organic Teas’ tea garden in Northern Bangladesh, Kazi & Kazi Tea Estate Limited (KKTE), was recently awarded Fair Trade certification. KKTE was – and still is - the first and only certified organic tea garden in Bangladesh and is now the first Fair Trade certified tea garden in the region. Through Fair Trade certification, Teatulia’s tea garden joins a network that benefits more than 1.2 million farming families in 70 developing countries around the world. To become Fair Trade certified, KKTE met rigorous standards to prove they promote safe and healthy working conditions, act as stewards of the environment, and enable communities to improve their economic conditions. “Since its inception in 2000, our tea garden has practiced most things Fair Trade stands for,” explained Teatulia Organic Teas’ Co-founder and CEO, Linda Appel Lipsius. “The garden produces high quality tea using sustainable practices that have regenerated the ecosystem while directly improving lives in our local Bangladeshi community.” Teatulia’s KKTE tea garden was established as an enterprise to give local Bangladeshi people a living wage while protecting and rehabilitating the environment. The tea garden employs more than 700 workers and supports 1,700+ community members through its farming cooperative, the Kazi Shahid Foundation. The co-op teaches organic farming, allowing members to feed their families and strengthen their socio-economic condition by earning a profit on their crops. The co-op’s education programs have improved literacy rates by 50% or more and graduated more than 370 of its members. The co-op also supports a cattle-lending program where members are loaned dairy cows in exchange for cow dung used as compost for the tea garden. The innovative dairy program has increased both monthly milk production and monthly incomes by 300%. About Teatulia Organic Teas Teatulia sources its teas and herbs directly from its own USDA-certified organic garden in Northern Bangladesh, Kazi & Kazi Tea Estate Limited (KKTE), and other like-minded gardens. The teas are cultivated using only natural farming methods, and garden-direct sourcing means the teas don’t sit in long-term warehouse storage or wait around to be blended by a third party. This results in great-tasting teas that are better for the land, its people and the environment. Teatulia’s farming cooperative, the Kazi Shahid Foundation, has created innovative education, health, and cattle-lending programs for the people working in the garden and surrounding areas. All sales of Teatulia Organic Teas contribute to the cooperative’s mission, helping to better the lives of men, women and children in the community while rebuilding the local ecosystem. Teatulia’s commitment to sustainability extends to its packaging, using stringless, tagless tea bags and 100% compostable, recyclable materials. Teatulia is mindful of how its actions impact worldwide communities and actively supports ethical organizations like the Whole Planet Foundation, Rainforest Alliance, and B Corporation. Teatulia’s award-winning hot and iced teas can be found across the country at fine-dining and fast-casual restaurants, colleges and universities, hotels, and specialty food and grocery stores. For more information about Teatulia’s foodservice offerings, visit http://www.teatulia.com or call 1.888.860.3233. Like Teatulia on Facebook and follow us on Google+.
News Article | December 22, 2016
My sweetie usually gives me flowers for special occasions, like holidays and my birthday. But it just occurred to me that I don’t know much about how sustainable cut flowers are. Are all those roses, lilies, and daisies actually bad for the planet? Do I have to give them up? I love getting flowers! I’m no fan of looking a gift horse in the mouth, especially when the giver is so thoughtful (and the horse so lovely to look at, and usually quite easy on the nose as well). And if there’s one thing I’ve learned about relationships, it’s that criticizing one’s sweetie for trying to do something nice for you is usually not going to score you any romance points. Plus, flowers are natural and compostable, right? What’s not to love? I hate to be a bouquet buzzkill, but it turns out there are actually a few details about the floral industry that should give us all pause. That’s not to say you and your beloved have to swear off gifted gladioli completely, but some blooms are much more sustainable than others. So how do we sniff out the winners? First, a look at the conventional flower biz. Most blossoms come with a whopping transportation footprint: About 80 percent of the ones we buy here in the U.S. come from South America, primarily Colombia (with Ecuador and Costa Rica also playing a role). Imports also dominate in Europe, in that case coming from Kenya. And shipping delicate flowers requires a lot more care — and a lot more energy — than shipping, say, plastic doodads. The blossoms must go from refrigerated warehouse to refrigerated cargo plane to refrigerated truck to refrigerated florist shop — a whole lotta cooling that generates a whole lotta CO2 emissions. Then there’s the matter of chemicals. Most flowers get hearty doses of fertilizers and pesticides — some so toxic they’ve been banned in the U.S., but not in the developing countries where our flowers are grown. (Because we don’t eat flowers — well, except at très fancy restaurants — the authorities don’t do much regulating.) That’s bad news for the ecosystems surrounding flower-growing operations, and also for the workers who get high doses of exposure to the nasty substances. So, Gwen, perhaps now you’re wondering if you can follow the same rules we have for food and look for local and organic flowers. Good thinking! But local flowers can be tricky; if they’re grown out of season, they likely come from energy-hogging greenhouses. Shopping for in-season, field-grown flowers can help with this, and finding a local grower makes asking questions about seasonality easy. How? Try your neighborhood farmers’ market, or consult the databases at Slow Flowers or Local Harvest to see who’s who in your corner of the world. The American Grown label will also guide you to blossoms that are at least domestically raised. Smaller, local farms are often your best bets for finding organic flowers, too, so you can make your dollars do double duty (though some farther-away organic producers will ship to you). And if you do find yourself in the market for something a little more exotic? Thankfully, there are a few third-party certification systems out there to help you pick the choicest blooms. A Veriflora label means the growers strive for fair working conditions, eco-friendly practices, and reduced chemical use; the similar Florverde label certifies your bouquet was produced with water conservation, pollution reduction, and reduced pesticide use top of mind. The familiar Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance labels also cover some flowers. These shouldn’t be too tough to find, either, as stores like Whole Foods, Costco, and Shopko carry eco-certified blooms. Finally, Gwen, might you consider cutting back a bit on store-bought flowers — which, for all their prettiness, are a fairly high-impact luxury item? Perhaps you could suggest that your sweetie give you a living potted plant instead? Or supplement your floral intake with paper or fabric flowers? Or, my favorite idea: How about some native wildflower seeds you can grow together in your yard, then pluck for uber-local arrangements come summer? I would never advise you two to completely abandon such a time-honored ritual of romance, but I daresay these tips will make green a much more prominent hue in your bouquets.