This is day 6 in my 31 Days series on sustainable dwelling. For an introduction and more posts, head here!
One of my favorite things about supporting small businesses is that you are often simultaneously supporting fair trade. When business decisions are made by people, instead of by panels or committees or The Bottom Line, they tend to be more mindful.
Coffee shops are a perfect example - one in Fayetteville is supplied by a coffee farm run by/supporting an orphanage in South America (Mama Carmen's) and another regularly visits their growers, Instagramming adorable selfies from gorgeous mountainsides, then reminding everyone once the beans are ready and roasted where they came from (Onyx Coffee Lab - they are also committed to sourcing their ingredients locally, so their milk, chocolate, and many other ingredients are supplied by other locals).
As a commodity, it's important to background-check your coffee (and your chocolate). There's too much possibility for underpayment (or worse), as well as environmentally unsustainable practices, and with the West's insatiable appetite for more, the temptation is understandable (if not excusable).
Thankfully, we've always had access to local coffee - there are a few shops here in Little Rock that are great (if not the most convenient choice - I lived in a college town for so long that I'm baffled by cafes that have minimal parking and close at 6pm). And others are beginning to jump on the bandwagon - TOMS has their own line of coffee that is not only ethical, but each bag purchased provides a village with water for a week, if you prefer to brew at home and don't have access to a local cafe.
As much as I love well-made coffee... and tea... and chocolate... and knitting and books and paper and pens (but that's a post for another day) my enjoyment shouldn't be paid for by someone else. But with local businesses and conscious fair trade choices, I can drink my coffee in peace, knowing that it's doing its job on my end (keeping me functional ;) as well as supporting someone else on the other end. Never settle for good enough, indeed.
Beautiful dwelling doesn't sacrifice the interests of others for its own - and sometimes a slightly more expensive or simply less convenient choice has benefits that ripple out beyond momentary enjoyment.