Posted by: Swati Hingorani on
Mar 24, 2010
I love browsing through random news sites. They always turn up the most fascinating stories! Just yesterday I was reading about how the CITES meet which is currently going on in Doha, wont see the passing of a ban on bluefin tuna fishing. It was disheartening because I don't see how a consumer's palate can be worth more than an endangered species but I suppose that how the cookie crumbles.
Either way, this morning on the Guardian I came across this article on the newly founded Sustainable Restaurant Association that believes that consumers can make a difference in how our food is made. Essentially, restaurants can choose to be accredited by them if they commit to three Key Actions from their Charter of Actions such as sourcing at least 20% of produce from a supplier within 50 miles of the restaurant, ensuring products like tea and coffee are from fair-trade associations and sending only a certain percentage of waste to a landfill. They then need to keep adding three new actions to their pledge every year. The entire guide is available here as a PDF.
Why was I happy to see this? Because I agree with them. An action as small as taking one less paper napkin, turning down a plastic coffee glass for a thermos and saying no to eating an endangered fish can make a massive difference. And since our governments and policy makers don't want to take sustainability seriously, it's up to us to make it happen.
Take the Greenpeace campaign on Nestle for instance. It's simply asking customers to make a choice and not eat Nestle's products while they come at the price of millions of hectares of valuable rainforests. And it worked! I usually take a chocolate break post lunch and my colleague always buys a Kit Kat - since last week she's replaced her daily break with another chocolate. And if enough people to do this, and cite the value of rainforests and orangutans as their reason, Nestle just might turn over a new leaf.
There are of course some other perspectives for and against this - blogger Jay Rayner has criticised the SRA's criteria for accreditation - you can read his post here and I read an article long ago on the BBC about a former shark fin lover turning down a delectable meal because of her environmental awakening.
I suppose it all boils down to how much civil society can do in the face of negligent policy makers. I say we can do a whole lot.