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Sustainability Sunday #66

Did your V-day kill some trees?

What did you do this Valentine’s Day? Did you buy or receive some flowers? Did you go out or stay in with a yummy dinner? Did you have some cute little chocolates, with love hearts on?

If you indulged in the chocky, do you know where it came from? We’ve all got a little bit of a sweet tooth; I’ll admit I don’t feel like a meal is finished unless I’ve had something sweet, but it wasn’t until recent years I learnt about the right kind of chocolate. And what is the right kind of chocolate I hear you ask? The kind that doesn’t result in deforestation. You probably weren’t expecting that to be the answer but let me tell you a little more…

Mighty Earth recently undertook an investigation in partnership with The Guardian on the effects of the demand for cocoa on deforestation – “Your Cocoa, Kissed by Deforestation.” Through satellite mapping they found that across Africa, Asia and the Amazon cocoa-producing regions are at high risk of deforestation which is worrying for the countries that the cocoa and chocolate industry are expanding to: Indonesia, Peru, Ecuador and Cameroon. These countries all have large areas of rainforest which with the demand for cocoa, and the enticing payment for it, is in danger of being reduced in exchange for expanding cocoa crops. It’s not just the trees that are at risk here, it’s the knock on effect on native species like the jaguar, sloths and buffalo who rely on the forests to live.

As ever, education is important for a change in this industry; it is not only the demand for cocoa that encourages deforestation. The cocoa farmers believe that recently deforested soil produces the biggest cocoa beans so they typically uproot trees bit by bit and replant with the cocoa plants to increase production size and value. Therefore, the introduction of more sustainable practices is the only answer to this side of the issue. Here is where brands can take responsibility, being better connected to their supply chain and helping to provide their suppliers with the knowledge and tools to maintain sustainable production.

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Where to buy:

Godiva have promised to commit to a cross-commodity No Deforestation policy soon. Mondelez have committed to no deforestation for its African sources but not yet worldwide, Unilever source 100% of their cocoa sustainably and Nestle are a signatory on the Cocoa & Forests initiative and have had a no deforestation policy for many of their ingredients for several years.

Moving away from the big brands, smaller brands like Divine Chocolate are always a safe bet as they are part-owned by the cocoa farmers themselves so not only is their practice fair, the brand has direct contact with the farmers to ensure their crops are produced sustainably, which in turn means no deforestation.

What can you do? Firstly, ask more from brands about their practices, across social media, in stores and encourage their good work by buying from their range of sustainable products. Secondly, you can support smaller brands like the aforementioned Divine Chocolate which supports the growth of good businesses.


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