America Runs on Fair-Trade Dunkin'

Dunkin' Donuts

Dunkin' Donuts has never broadcast the fact that all its espresso, cappuccinos, and lattes are 100 percent-certified fair trade. Till now, that is, if you can call placing a blink-and-you'll-miss-it fair-trade sticker on its store doors tooting its own horn.

In this age of corporate-social-responsibility initiatives and greenwashing, this relatively demure PR stance borders on mindboggling. One coffee giant would be screeching this fact from the mountaintops, or, at the very least, the Columbia Center in downtown Seattle, if it upped the ante with such a bold, progressive move, rather than merely providing lip service. Apparently—among the java titans, at least—that's the Dunkin' Difference.

Let's compare numbers between the two chain stores: 100 percent of Dunkin' Donuts' espresso-based coffee is fair-trade-certified, compared with Starbucks' 3.7 percent. Because of its prodigious reach, however, Starbucks is North America's largest purchaser of fair-trade coffee, which makes its purchasing decisions hardly inconsequential.

But what's the big deal about fair trade, you may ask?Fair trade ensures that small farmers in developing countries receive equitable compensation for their labors, or what counts as a living wage in their country of origin. Too often, they watch their hard-earned profits whisked away by predatory middlemen.

By demanding fair-trade products, you’re leveraging your power as a consumer to push for better trading conditions and fair returns for marginalized producers and workers. Third-party certification groups audit the companies that bear their seal, so you're not just taking them at their word, which self-certification makes you do.

TreeHugger believes that sustainable, equitable trade, not aid, can help alleviate poverty in the developing world. To learn more about fair-trade-certified products in the United States, visit the Web site of Transfair U.S.A., the only third-party certifier of fair-trade products in America. ::Dunkin Donuts

See also: ::How to Green Your Coffee and Tea, ::JavaPop: Fair-Trade, Organic Coffee Soda, and ::Black Gold: A Coffee Film That Has Starbucks Scared

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