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wake up and smell the coffee

Submitted by turbosprout on Thu, 2011-05-12 10:02

Find out more about Fairtrade, Fair Trade, Fairtrade Coffee Week, World Fair Trade Day and what you can do to help!

Nothing beats that first sip of coffee in the morning, and most of the Western world rely on caffeine's psychoactive effects to kickstart their day, but spare a thought for how the world's second largest commodity (after oil) got from where it was produced to your lips.

In Black Gold, being screened at the Labia as part of Fairtrade Coffee Week, Tadesse Meskela is a man on a mission to save 74 000 Ethiopian farmers from bankruptcy. Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee, but as Tadesse travels the world, will he find a buyer willing to purchase coffee beans of the highest quality at a fair price?

The movie exposes the enormous power of the multinational players that dominate the world's coffee trade. Unsurprisingly the world's largest sellers of coffee to consumers - Starbucks, Proctor & Gamble, Nestle, Kraft and Sara Lee declined to be interviewed for the film. New York commodity traders, the international coffee exchanges, and the double dealings of trade ministers at the World Trade Organisation also come under scrutiny.

With so many middle-men, the coffee farmers, left to the devices of a skewed "free market" system, will never receive a decent price for their efforts. So what is an ethically minded coffee addict to do?

Support the Fair Trade movement
This is where the Fair Trade movement steps in so that

awesome permaculture poster series by afristar

Submitted by turbosprout on Wed, 2011-05-11 11:48

Afristar (along with Seed and funding partners) have produced a great series of 13 permaculture posters that every household, school or greening ngo should definitely not be without.

The posters cover key permaculture concepts or techniques, from making compost, keeping worms, recycling greywater et. al to talking stick circles! The illustration is superbly detailed, eye catching yet conveys the message simply - a picture tells a thousand words.

The posters are free to social welfare and educational organisations, otherwise they cost R 60 each incl postage. The planting calendars are available in a laminated retail version for R 80 incl postage.

Check out the entire set of posters on flickr or facebook.

Here is the list of posters available (comments by urban sprout). Contact Afristar for more details.

Companion planting
Lists the good companions (plants that have a positive effect, like increasing the yield or deterring pests) and bad

care about the forest - here's what you can do

Submitted by sproutingforth on Wed, 2011-05-04 09:15

We visited Platbos recently. For those who don't know what it is, Platbos is this fairly incredible ancient, indigenous forest that was discovered kind of by accident by Francois and Melissa Krige, just off the coast of Gansbaai, in the Overberg.

We'll save the story of our visit for later, but what this blog is about, is how YOU can contribute to Platbos, for only R75, and put your money where your mouth is, by sponsoring a tree (or two).

If you look closely, you'll see that companies, like Solartech, sponsor 20 odd trees a month to lower their carbon footprint.

Each tree you sponsor contributes a square metre of forest canopy and

100 ideas for creating a more peaceful world

Submitted by turbosprout on Wed, 2011-04-27 15:41

Peace demonstrators hold a rainbow peace flag in Venezia Square, Rome, 15 Feb 2003.: One million ordinary people gathered to protest the US led war on Iraq.Peace demonstrators hold a rainbow peace flag in Venezia Square, Rome, 15 Feb 2003.: One million ordinary people gathered to protest the US led war on Iraq.Need to create more peace in your life and the world surrounding you? I thought this was a great list:

  1. Be generous with your smiles.
  2. Commit daily acts of kindness.
  3. Respect the Earth.
  4. Walk in a forest.
  5. Plant a tree.
  6. Contemplate a mountain.
  7. Don't pollute.
  8. Live simply.
  9. Skip a meal each week, and donate to an organization helping the hungry.
  10. Erase a border in your mind.
  11. Teach peace to children.
  12. Read Chief Seattle's (or was it a Hollywood screen writer's) Letter to the US President.
  13. Be honest.
  14. Demand honesty from your government.
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happy earth day!

Submitted by turbosprout on Fri, 2011-04-22 09:57

Earth Day (22 Apr) is not widely celebrated in South Africa, our major national environmental day being World Environment Day (5 Jun). But then who needs an excuse to celebrate the Earth. Every day should be Earth Day! Earth Day was originally started in the US of A, back before a lot of us were born (:-)), in 1970 by a US Senator Gaylord Nelson. Over the years since then it has grown into a global celebration, not tied to any one government or country.

Last year we noted the Earth Day Network's Billion Acts of Green initiative and this year the call is the same: make a personal commitment to sustainability.

We've already celebrated Earth Hour and we have World Environment Day and Arbor Day to look forward to. If we make one new lifestyle change or commitment to an environmental practice on each celebrated occasion we'll quickly be living much greener lives.

22 Apr 2011 happens to also fall on Good Friday, so for a change we're not in the office, and could use the occasion to enjoy some quality time with our families and reflect on how we can improve things for ourselves and the earth.

Ideas for this Earth Day
If you are not already doing so, why not make a commitment to starting your own composting system, recycling your waste, reducing

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gearing up for COP 17 and the year of the oceans?

Submitted by sproutscout on Thu, 2011-04-21 12:11

SEA Pledge CampaignSEA Pledge Campaign

If you’re fed up with the tales of rubbish islands afloat in the Atlantic, increasing global temperatures and oil soaked penguins, sign the SEA Pledge today.

2011 has been declared the Year of the Forest, the "lungs" of the earth, following the COP 16 UN conference on Climate Change in Cancun in December 2010, where UN delegates met to discuss and disagree about Climate Change and how to deal with it.

Environmental organizations throughout South Africa are already gearing up for the COP 17 Conference, to be held in Durban in November and December this year. The South East African Climate Consortium (SEACC) and the Sustainable Seas Trust hope to name 2012 "the Year of the Oceans", with their SEA Pledges campaign. Set to be one of the biggest public participation campaign towards COP 17 in 2011, the SEA Pledges campaign will create awareness about the importance of oceans, their current state of degradation, and the impact this has on climate change and human livelihoods.

The real lungs
What many non-scientists don't know is that the real lungs of the earth are the oceans. They have a unique capacity to absorb carbon dioxide (more so than the earth's forests) and in so doing

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cautious welcome for mandatory labelling of GM foods

Submitted by incoming on Wed, 2011-04-20 13:12

Via email from the African Centre for Biosafety and SAFEAGE

On the 1st April 2011, final regulations were published in terms of the Consumer Protection Act, on the labeling of GM foods. These regulations will come into effect on the 1 October 2011.

Its been a long and anxious wait to see what the final regulations governing the labelling of Genetically Modified GM Foods would entail. We are not ecstatic about the regulations, its more of a cautious welcome, please see our press release at

We originally asked for the regulations to:

  1. Extend to all approved GMOs and food derived from such GMOs;
  2. Set the threshold at 1% for technically unavoidable presence and thus GM content above 1% and not 5% should be labeled;
  3. Exclude loopholes for companies to avoid testing and correct labeling.

What we ended up with, is the possibility of up to 5 different labels on GM foods:

  1. Where the GM content is at least 5%, the food will be labeled as 'containing GMOs'. Cereals containing maize and soy could fall into this category as well as many supermarket breads that usually contain some soy.

i can't believe i still have to protest this ****

Submitted by sproutingforth on Wed, 2011-04-20 09:31

One of a series of pictures you can view of Earthlife Africa's recent nuke protest outside the Japanese Consul in Pier Place, Cape Town on Monday.

party for the trees with greenpop this thurs

Submitted by incoming on Mon, 2011-04-18 11:06

Greenpop welcomes Earth Day with a party celebrating the earth and her beautiful trees - Cool as Folk, 21 April 2011, The Assembly, 8pm

Tree planting initiative, Greenpop, started planting indigenous and fruit trees on the Cape Flats in September last year. At Greenpop, the past 7 months have seen just over 3000 trees going into the ground, environmental education spreading, more than 500 volunteers signing up to come and plant and wonderful school children getting their hands dirty and learning to plant and care for trees.

Through the hot summer, the schools excitedly implemented Greenpop's grey water idea, where each child brings in a 2-litre bottle of their bath water to school 3 times a week and each class has designated days to water their trees. With more than 1000 learners at some schools, that's a lot of recycled water!

But now it's time for the rains to come, and some rain dancing is in order.

Greenpop's second 'Cool as Folk' party is Thursday 21 April - the day before

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activists: diarise two events

Submitted by sproutingforth on Tue, 2011-04-12 10:32

Film: Gasland: this week at UCT. Don't miss the chance to see this documentary.

Dates: Tuesday 12th and Wednesday 13th April
Time: 5pm
Venue: Studio 5, EGS (Environmental and Geographical Science) building, UCT upper campus

Demonstration: Unplug Nuclear! No Nukes in Africa

Date: Monday 18 April 2011
Time: 12am – 2pm
Venue: Pier Place, Heerengracht Street, Cape Town

Join Earthlife Africa. 25 years since Chernobyl. Action near the Japanese Embasssy in Cape Town. In support of the 'Fukushima 50' – 4 teams of 50 workers who are almost certain to die from their work in helping stem the ongoing radiation. We also aim to express our condolences regarding the impact on people in Japan by the tsunami and the ongoing nuclear disasster.

For more, contact


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