In a field near Meru, eastern Kenya, a farmer is planting trees. Over 12,000 kilometers away, a coffee grower tends to his crop in the Ecuadorean Amazon. In the montane forests of central Peru, subsistence farmers engage in agricultural management techniques that conserve the adjacent forest. All these farmers will likely never meet. They will never even know each other’s names. Yet each will have a better life because of the others.
How? &BACK coffee is able to concretely actualize its commitment to environmental stewardship through its partnership with Climate Neutral, a globally recognized independent certification process for responsible companies who don’t just want to reduce their carbon footprint but zero it. To do that, we engage in a three-step process:
- measuring the emissions created through every stage of our value chain;
- implementing a concrete plan to reduce our emissions and;
- support carbon offsets that counter the emissions we can’t eliminate.
That last one is where our farmers come in. You’ve probably heard of carbon offsets. The idea is to invest in projects that either helps to avoid greenhouse emissions and support programs or infrastructure that actively reduces atmospheric carbon to a level equal to or greater than our emissions.
With agriculture in the developing world, deforestation is one of the most significant climate issues. From the macro to the micro, that vital forested land helps in so many ways: it provides farmers with protection against soil erosion and improve moisture retention; it promotes biodiversity and plant pollination that is beneficial to crop production; it also cleans the air and controls atmospheric carbon. As a coffee company, it only makes sense to invest in projects that address deforestation in countries where coffee is grown. And as with all investing, a blended portfolio is always better, so &BACKTM supports two projects—one preventing forest loss and the other planting more trees.
You probably guessed that the Kenyan farmer is involved in reforestation. The International Small Group and Tree Planting Program (TIST) supports smallholder farmers in Kenya (as well as India, Uganda, and Tanzania) to plant trees on their community land. In addition to the carbon sink benefit these trees will provide for the climate, they also reduce soil erosion and improve soil health, helping the farmers’ crops. On top of all that, with the profits from the sale of the carbon credits, participants are paid for each tree they plant, creating additional income for their families. More than 52,000 people participate in TIST in Kenya alone.
Meanwhile, across the ocean in Peru, another country along the coffee belt, the REDD+ project works with subsistence farmers, including Indigenous communities, alongside Cordillera Azul National Park. They learn sustainable land management practices to farm sustainably without damaging the forest; and promote sustainable economic activities that leverage their traditional uses of biodiversity and celebrate their artistic traditions. The program has wholly prevented deforestation in more than 13,500 square km of the national park, avoiding an estimated 25 million tonnes of carbon emissions—equivalent to taking five million cars off the road for a year!
All of this great work is proudly supported by &BACK through its climate investments made with proceeds from the sale of Fairtrade coffee sourced from coops in Latin America and East Africa that will, in the long run, benefit from the climate-positive work done by those farmers in Kenya and Peru. Their efforts are an integral part of our environmental commitment to help create viable and prosperous futures in coffee farming for women coffee farmers now, and for generations to come. It’s the circle of Climate Neutral!
And you become part of that circle every time you choose &BACKTM coffee, further enabling us to empower coffee farmers now, invest in their futures and give back to the planet we all call home.