Wednesday, 24 October 2007


Yet another repost from the folks at the Centre for the Study of Education and Work:

CBTU 11TH ANNUAL DINNER AND DANCE: “Pushing the Equity Agenda Politically”

Saturday, November 10, 2007
6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. (Reception and Cocktails)
7:00 p.m. (Dinner)
Individual Tickets: $60.00
Table of 8: $480.00

1158 Aerowood Drive
Mississauga, ON

Keynote speaker: Terry Melvin, AFL/CIO New York Secretary-Treasurer,
CBTU Region 1 Director

For more information or to register, contact:

Margaret Law
Ontario Federation of Labour
15 Gervais Drive, Suite 202, Toronto, ON M3C 1Y8
Tel: (416) 443-7656 – Fax: (416) 441-0722 – Email:

Monday, 22 October 2007

Environ Mental #6

Environ Mental #6
Alter Eco Newsletter
October 17th, 2007

Halloween is fast approaching! A scary reminder that time, along with the leaves, flies.

Since the last newsletter in January we have been quietly and not so quietly, developing the art and music.

On May 3/07 I played ***live*** at the Lakeview Lunch, 1132 Dundas St W, @ Ossington, a genuine 40’s diner and almost in it’s original condition – like me! It is an open mic organised by Maria Kastaan, a genuine singer-songwriter and an original Yorkville denizen. I got to play all the songs on the CD in 2 sets.

I was feeling alright.
I coulda played all night.
But my pickin hand
Had a case of stage fright.

Down at the Lakeview Lunch

Came off well but room for improvement. All enjoyed it and were very supportive. More on that in the near future.

Also launched the new music website, "This Old Guitar". It can be accessed from the main Alter Eco website. It is still under construction, but has pics and other content. Check it out!

The BIG story, of which we are extremely pleased and honoured, is that we have been asked to be part of an advisory council at the Recycling Council of Ontario, for matters relating to the arts. This is the first year that they have expanded their Awards categories to the arts.

From their website:
The Recycling Council of Ontario is a not-for-profit organization committed to minimizing society's impact on the environment by eliminating waste. RCO's mission is to inform and educate all members of society about the generation of waste, the avoidance of waste, the more efficient use of resources and the benefits and/or consequences of these activities. Since its inception in 1978, RCO has actively assisted municipalities, corporations, other organisations and individuals in reducing their waste.”

And bigger and more exciting yet is that we have been nominated for an Award to be presented at their Gala Event Thursday, Oct 18th. So by the time you read this history will have unfolded as it should!

Upcoming shows we are doing are the Planet in Focus International Environmental Film and Video Festival, Community Eco Exchange
Saturday, October 27th & Sunday, October 28th, 11:00am – 5:00pm, Innis College (2 Sussex Avenue, in the University of Toronto) - Free Admission

Also on Thursday, November 29th, 10am – 5pm, we are doing the CBC Christmas Crafts Sale. It is located in the CBC Atrium at 250 Front St W. – Free Admission

We look forward to seeing you there and in the mean time hope you are all well and too busy to be scared and check the art website for the results of tomorrow night!!

Cheers as always,

StrikeBike production starts today

The following update regarding production of the StrikeBike came to our attention through the people at Ztangi Press:

Hamburg, 15th of October 2007:

Strike-Bike Production starts on Monday the 22nd of October at 6:30 a.m.!

Finally, on 22nd of October the bicycle factory in Nordhausen start up
operation again. From 6:30 a.m. the "Strike-Bike" will be produced fully
self-managed and without bosses. The 1800 bicycles will be produced and
delivered to the customer in the beginning of november.

People who are interested in a „Strike-Bike" but didn't get one of the 1800,
have from now on the possibility to put their name down in a
Reservierungsliste on the webpage

Media representatives from press, radio and television are welcome. We
strongly ask for notices in advance. Due to the public interest
accreditations are needed.

There will be present: the collegues from "Bikes-in-Nordhausen e.V." as well
as members of the FAU, of the Café Libertad Collective and other unions from
other countries.

Please notify yourself timely by Fax:

»Bikes – in – Nordhausen e.V.«
Freiherr-vom-Stein-Str. 31 – 99734 Nordhausen
Tel. 03631 – 622 124 – Fax: 03631 – 622 170
eMail: fahrradwerk (ät)

For further informations about the campaign of the FAU-„Strike

Folkert Mohrhof
- mobile *0179-4863252* and ...
respectively monday till friday from 10 am till 3 pm:
*+49 40 - 20 90 68 96*
presse (ät)

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Toronto IWW (Wobblies) Union an opportunity for Toronto workers who want to improve their working conditions

IWW is the union of choice for progressive enterprises that put workers at the centre of enterprise. As part of the Libra Co-op TorontotheBetter workers are IWW union members and part of the only unionized worker co-op in Toronto. To find out more anyone is welcome to join our monthly meetings. Find out about a worker friendly union, and maybe join us, hear about our Food Workers campaign and keep up with international Wobbly initiatives like the Starbuck's workers union.

November, 2007 meeting is at 3pm, Saturday Nov.17th at 519 Church St.

Call 416-707-3509 for room number and other details.

To be added to the IWW mailing list contact:

Thursday, 18 October 2007

TorontoTheBetter members co-sponsor/work with Green Carpet Series' Evening of Green Cuisine

AutoShare is co-sponsoring and Meaghan Orlanski is working at the Green Carpet Series' Evening of Green Cuisine.

The event takes place Tuesday, May 16, 2006 at the St. Lawrence North Market, 92 Front Street East, and tickets are $40.

It looks like a great event; check out there webpage for more details.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

GreenDeals Daily

GreenDeals Daily (formerly helps consumers find and share economical ways of reducing everyday environmental impacts. Check it out!

Oh and they also have a blog.

Friday, 5 October 2007

Fair Trade Coffee at Wal-Mart (Sam's Club)

The following full-text New York Times article about the increasing availability of fair trade coffee through mainstream sources came to us from the GLOBAL-SOUTH mailing list:

October 2, 2007, New York Tiimes
Fair Trade in Bloom

VARGINHA, Brazil: Rafael de Paiva was skeptical at first. If he wanted a
"fair trade" certification for his coffee crop, the Brazilian farmer would
have to adhere to a long list of rules on pesticides, farming techniques,
recycling and other matters. He even had to show that his children were
enrolled in school.

"I thought, 'This is difficult,'" recalled the humble farmer. But the 20
percent premium he recently received for his first fair trade harvest made
the effort worthwhile, Mr. Paiva said, adding, it "helped us create a
decent living."

More farmers are likely to receive such offers, as importers and retailers
rush to meet a growing demand from consumers and activists to adhere to
stricter environmental and social standards.

Mr. Paiva's beans will be in the store-brand coffee sold by Sam's Club,
the warehouse chain of Wal-Mart Stores, Dunkin' Donuts, McDonald's and Starbucks, which already sell some fair trade coffee.

"We see a real momentum now with big companies and institutions switching
to fair trade," said Paul Rice, president and chief executive of TransFair
USA, the only independent fair trade certifier in the United States.

The International Fair Trade Association, an umbrella group of
organizations in more than 70 countries, defines fair trade as reflecting
"concern for the social, economic and environmental well-being of
marginalized small producers" and does "not maximize profit at their

According to Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International, a group of
fair trade certifiers, consumers spent approximately $2.2 billion on
certified products in 2006, a 42 percent increase over the previous year,
benefiting over seven million people in developing countries.

Like consumer awareness of organic products a decade ago, fair trade
awareness is growing. In 2006, 27 percent of Americans said they were
aware of the certification, up from 12 percent in 2004, according to a
study by the New-York based National Coffee Association.

Fair trade products that have experienced the biggest jump in demand
include coffee, cocoa and cotton, according to the Fairtrade Labelling

Dozens of other products, including tea, pineapples, wine and flowers, are
certified by organizations that visit farmers to verify that they are
meeting the many criteria that bar, among other things, the use of child
labor and harmful chemicals.

There is no governmental standard for fair trade certification, the same
situation as with "organic" until a few years ago. Some fair trade produce
also carries the organic label, but most does not. One important
difference is the focus of the labels: organic refers to how food is
cultivated, while fair trade is primarily concerned with the condition of
the farmer and his laborers.

Big chains are marketing fair trade coffee to varying degrees. All the
espresso served at the 5,400 Dunkin' Donuts stores in the United States,
for example, is fair trade. All McDonald's stores in New England sell only
fair trade coffee. And in 2006, Starbucks bought 50 percent more fair
trade coffee than in 2005.

Fair trade produce remains a minuscule percentage of world trade, but it
is growing. Only 3.3 percent of coffee sold in the United States in 2006
was certified fair trade, but that was more than eight times the level in
2001, according to TransFair USA.

Although Sam's Club already sells seven fair trade imports, including
coffee, this will be the first time it has put its Member's Mark label on
a fair trade product, which Mr. Rice of TransFair called "a statement of
their commitment to fair trade."

He added, "The impact in terms of volume and the impact in terms of the
farmers and their families is quite dramatic."

Michael Ellgass, the director of house brands for Sam's Club, said the
company could afford to pay fair trade's premium because it has reduced
the number of middlemen.

Coffee usually passes from farmers through roasters, packers, traders,
shippers and warehouses before arriving in stores. But Sam's Club will buy
shelf-ready merchandise directly from Café Bom Dia, the roaster here in
Brazil's lush coffee country.

"We are cutting a number of steps out of the process by working directly
with the farmer," Mr. Ellgass said.

Some critics of fair trade say that working with thousands of small
farmers makes strict adherence to fair trade rules difficult.

Others argue that fair trade coffee is as exploitive as the conventional
kind, especially in countries that produce the highest-quality beans -
like Colombia, Ethiopia and Guatemala. Fair trade farmers there are barely
paid more than their counterparts in Brazil, though their crops become
gourmet brands, selling for a hefty markup, said Geoff Watts, vice
president for coffee at Chicago's Intelligentsia Coffee and Tea, a coffee

But in Brazil, a nation with little top-grade coffee, the partnership
between small producers and big retailers is a better blend, Mr. Watts

Fair trade coffee farmers in Brazil are paid at least $1.29 a pound,
compared with the current market rate of roughly $1.05 per pound, said
Sydney Marques de Paiva, president of Café Bom Dia.

Most coffee farmers are organized into cooperatives, and some of that
premium finances community projects like schools or potable water.

Like most of his cooperative's 3,000-odd members - and three-quarters of
coffee growers worldwide - Mr. Paiva, the coffee farmer (no relation to
Mr. Marques de Paiva), farms less than 25 acres of land. He produces
around 200 132-pound sacks for the co-op, with 70 percent of that sold as
fair trade to Café Bom Dia.

The company would buy more if there were more of a market for fair trade
coffee, it said.

The fair trade crop brought Mr. Paiva about 258 reais ($139) a sack,
compared with about 230 reais for the sacks that were not fair trade. For
the latest crop, that meant an additional 3,920 reais ($2,116) for him, a
huge sum here in the impoverished mountains of Minas.

"It's been great for us," Mr. Paiva said with a huge, toothless grin. "I
call the people from the co-op my family now."

Mr. Ellgass, the Sam's Club executive, said the chain hoped to expand its
fair trade goods.

So do Brazil's farmers. "Everybody is doing their best to come up to
standard so we can sell our coffee as fair trade," said Conceição Peres da
Costa, one of the co-op's growers. "Everybody wants to earn as much as he

Support the Clean Clothes Campaign -- Write a letter today!

A campaign alert from the Maquila Solidarity Network:

Re: Support the Clean Clothes Campaign -- Write a letter today!

Legal action is being used by a company producing garments in India
to silence labour rights organizations in India and the Netherlands
who are speaking out about severe worker rights violations in
factories producing jeans for companies including G-Star, Armani,
RaRe, Guess, Gap and Mexx.

On September 26, 2007, the local court in Bangalore, India issued
arrest warrants against seven staff members of the European Clean
Clothes Campaign and the India Committee of the Netherlands.
Notwithstanding international pressure, Fibre & Fabrics International
and its 100% subsidiary Jeans Knits Pvt. Ltd (FFI/JKPL) is refusing
to engage with union and local labour rights organizations and stop
legal action.

Instead of working with local organizations to improve labour
conditions and labour relations, the jeans supplier is trying to stop
labour rights groups from distributing information on the situation
at FFI/JKPL and has filed restraining orders and libel lawsuits to
silence them. The worker rights advocates are committed to pursuing
justice for the women and men who stitch our jeans, but support is
needed in the face of the huge legal campaign mounted by FFI/JKPL.

How you can help
Contact brands and factory owners to tell them "Enough is
enough". You can send letters directly from the CCC website at:

Maquila Solidarity Network / Ethical Trading Action Group
606 Shaw Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M6G 3L6
416-532-8584 (phone) | 416-532-7688 (fax)