Consumeless for a year

A journal of a year of consuming less and consuming sustainably

Positive meeting news 15/01/2010

After complaining about meetings without veggie lunch options, I must also report two positive meetings I attended this week. The first one was a presentation of a project called The BlueCall Phone by Ithaka, a centre coaching people with a handicap. Part of the centre is an Oxfam Wereldwinkel, a shop selling fair trade products. It was an early breakfast meeting and Oxfam fair trade coffee, tea and orange juice  were served!

"Future friendly packaging" at TU Delft

Today I had a meeting at TU Delft‘s Studiolab. We had lunch in one of the faculties’ restaurants. Of course I should have brought my own lunch, but I find that a bit difficult, as I never know beforehand what the others’ plans are for lunch. I don’t want to be a killjoy. So. We went to the restaurant where I tried to assemble a sustainable lunch. I didn’t take any of the pre-prepared and pre-packaged salads or sandwiches, but took a unpackaged sandwich, some butter and some cheese. And a bowl of soup. I was happy to find organic butter milk (all dairy was organic). I was slightly less happy to find disposable plates, cups, bowls and forks, knives and spoons. However, all plates, bowls and cups had a sign saying “future friendly packaging”. No clue what that means exactly, but at least the restaurant tries to be more sustainable I guess!

By the way, we went to Eise’s parents last Wednesday, so I went to Delft by bike! 😉

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Organic trademarks US vs Europe/Netherlands 13/01/2010

Eko keurmerk

In both the books No Impact Man and in Eating Animals (by Jonathan Saffran Foer), I read that US organic trademarks are mostly commercially driven and the rules that they prescribe do not really guarantee organic products, animal welfare, etc. For instance, in the US, a cow that never gets to go outside (but has a window with a view) can provide certified organic beef and dairy.

To be honest, reading this upset me quite a bit. So I did a little research into European and Dutch organic trademarks. I was happy to find out that the rules here are much stricter. For example, a Dutch trademark which is very common is the Eko Keurmerk. I looked up the rules this trademark sets and that looks much better than the American stories I read about. To be Eko certified, animals should be able to go out whenever they want. And stables should accommodate species-specific behaviour (e.g. chickens like to sleep while sitting on a roost, so this should be provided in a stable. And pigs that are about to have piglets build a nest, so nesting material should be available.). What I also liked, is the fact that Eko allows for giving animals medication when they are sick, as long as their meat or produce is not used for a period twice as long as the medication manufacturer prescribes. No Impact Man tells a story of a dairy farmer who isn’t allowed to say that his milk is organic, because he gives is animals medication when they are sick. Apparently, to produce certified organic milk in the US, no medication at all is allowed, so animals who have a simple infection that won’t cure naturally have to be put down.

So, I am slightly reassured, but this again shows that we really need to be critical, and that we shouldn’t believe everything that manufacturers want us to believe. I also wonder whether there are ‘truly organic’ trademarks in the US.

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