University News

2008 WASC Fair Trade Campaign Keeps Coffee Coming

September 26, 2008

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MACOMB, IL - - Due to the popularity of the Western Illinois University Anthropology and Sociology Club's fair trade campaign, students, faculty and employees can once again enjoy three varieties of freshly roasted, whole bean, organic and shade grown coffee.

The 12-ounce bags of fair trade coffee available for purchase are "Sustain Yourself Blend," a dark Peruvian roast; "WAKE UP! Blend," a dark Bolivian roast; and "Relax (a bit) Blend," a blend of Mexican regular and Dominican Republic decaffeinated coffees. Each bag is $8.50, including delivery to locations on the WIU-Macomb campus.

The fair trade coffee campaign was created by Western's Anthropology and Sociology Clubs (WASC) last year in a dual effort to raise awareness of its role in environmental sustainability issues and social concerns, and to help to fund a new graduating senior scholarship at Western.

"Fair trade is a movement that began in the middle of the 20th century when charity groups began to sell items to North America," said Assistant Professor of Anthropology Jess White, WASC adviser. "The idea was to support people in need through a grass roots consumer movement. Now it is a system that allows workers in the supply chain to receive fair wages while helping to preserve the environment."

Local cooperatives in independent regions use traditional farming and organic farming methods to produce shade-grown coffee, which is matured on the forest floor. This prevents the clear cutting of forests, conserves the habitats of the forest plants and animals and promotes environmental sustainability. Because of shade-grown coffee, there has been a resurgence of endangered primates and birds, explained White, whose research interests often focus on primate ecology, behavior and evolution.

Much of the money raised by producers goes back into the community toward funding adult education, opening new schools, raising social issue awareness or for developing the economy, White added.

"It is as much about awareness as it is about fundraising. The point is not to convince consumers to stop buying certain items, but to harness consumer power and get people to think about who is on the other end of producing the goods they purchase," White commented.

"WASC supports the aim of fair trade to offer fair prices and wages for laborers around the world, educational opportunities, democracy in the workplace, gender equality, environmental sustainability and to promote a stronger voice for individuals involved in all stages of the marketing process," she added.

To purchase coffee or for more information, contact White at or visit

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