Honduras - Carbon Footprint and Coronavirus (Part 2)
I left Jersey at precisely 14.00 on a pristine and gorgeously sunny spring day, the proverbial calm before the storm predicted for the following day. I’m off on my next coffee adventure to Honduras a mere 5,500 miles away but I wonder if the days of the “origin” visit are numbered? How do I now justify the inevitable carbon footprint this journey will make? I’d probably struggle to look a certain Greta Thunberg in the eye as I claimed there was a greater good in this journey.
In this regard, I’d like to briefly reference a book I’m currently reading entitled “How to thrive in the next economy”. It’s written by John Thackara and in it, he looks at many of the big issues of our time. Whilst he recognises the damage and unsustainable nature of much of what we do in our hyper industrialised world rather than taking a nihilistic approach by banning everything he suggests a much more collaborative approach. One where the objectives of all involved are aligned in such a way as to benefit all. Pie in the sky maybe, however, the alternative is no pie and no sky. So how do I justify my journey? For me, it’s always about the story. How can I better understand the day to day issues faced by the people who grow the coffee we sell in our store? Yes, I could get some stylised video sent over or “facetime” the producers but what would I be selling, almost certainly fake news. The people at the bottom of the food chain are living on less than U$2 a day, you’d probably need more money to survive living in a cardboard box on Jersey’s main shopping drag. It is
impossible for us to even begin to relate to their “lifestyle”. I’m not however asking you to relate to the impossible, I would much prefer that you better
understood what it takes to get that cup of coffee delivered to your table. I want you to get some sense of the impact of your decisions on people thousands of miles away from where you live. I don’t want you to feel sorry for them, but instead to understand why they make the choices they make and how those decisions impact us all.
This is my first visit to Honduras, by all accounts a country with a very troubled history that is desperately trying to escape those shackles and build a better and brighter future for the next generation. It’s a country with a rich heritage of growing coffee; commodity rather than speciality, the worst kind from a producer perspective. How can you make a living when others dictate the
price you get for your product without any concept of your input costs? I’ll be visiting producers endeavouring to break away from this catastrophic position and with a fair wind get that coffee into our store and cafes in Jersey.
I couldn’t finish this blog without mention of the impact on my journey of the Coronavirus. In Jersey, it’s thankfully for now just a news item happening to someone else thousands of miles away. When you arrive at a place like Heathrow it becomes so much more real. There are people wearing
facemasks, announcements over the tannoy for those travelling to America. Then someone sneezes behind you and you wonder if you were over a metre away from them when they sneezed? I don’t think I’ve ever experienced the impact of 24/7 news and the underlying panic it spreads even in the
most innocuous scenarios.