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Forty days of fair

| Wednesday, February 18, 2015

I love the musical “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” for many reasons. An important one is that it starred Daniel Radcliffe in its revival three years ago, which was a wonderful thing. Picture Harry Potter in a suit and bow-tie doing incredibly complicated choreography while running around singing with a delightful vibrato.

More importantly, however, the annoyingly catchy song  “Coffee Break” really resonates with me.

“If I can’t take my coffee break,
My coffee break, my coffee break…
If I can’t take my coffee break,
Something within me dies.”

“If I can’t make three daily trips
Where shining shrine
Benignly drips
And taste cardboard between my lips,
Something within me dies.”

No really, something within me really does die. If you’ve ever had the distinct pleasure of running into me early in the morning before I’ve had my (first) daily cup of coffee, then I’m so sorry, because I was probably horribly unpleasant.

Unfortunately, however, the coffee industry that I so rely on is rife with human rights abuse, unfairly low wages and dangerous working conditions. Many coffee companies grow their coffee beans in incredibly impoverished areas of the world and do little to combat that.

My coffee habit sometimes leaves me feeling guilty. I try to drink fair trade coffee when I can, but that’s only so convenient, and I happen to love Starbucks, a company criticized heavily for its treatment of workers in Ethiopia.

The issue presents at the forefront of my mind this week because, in the days leading up to Ash Wednesday, I’ve been on a quest to decide what I would like to do or give up for Lent. I briefly considered weaning myself off caffeine entirely, but that seems unrealistic (read: impossible. Definitely not happening.)

Instead, I’m going Fair Trade for the next 40 days. Completely. Thankfully, there are plenty of places to find fair trade coffee on this campus (Waddicks, Café de Grasta and the Huddle, to name a few).

The way I see it, if I’m going to pump an alarming amount of my flex points and, when I inevitably run out of them, my own money into the coffee industry, I should at least make an effort to encourage fair trade companies.

And, since you’ve taken the time to read this, I’m encouraging you — take the opportunity to support human rights while supporting your own sanity with your daily cup of joe.


The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Margaret Hynds

Margaret is a senior Political Science major and the former Editor-in-Chief of The Observer. She hails from Washington, D.C., and is a former Phox of Pangborn Hall. Follow Margaret on Twitter @MargaretHynds

Contact Margaret