KUA Commits to Socially Responsible and Environmentally Sustainable Coffee
Today we celebrate International Coffee Day with this savory story from The Hilltop:
Former students in Dr. Kopp’s course Sustainability and Social Entrepreneurshiphad a mission. After learning about the “ecologically unequal exchange” between coffee consuming countries and the markets they serve, they wanted to see change. Coffee is one of the world’s most traded commodities. The vast majority of coffee is grown in developing countries by tens of millions of small-scale farmers, and the vast majority is consumed by customers in highly developed countries. The business relationship has historically been predatory on the coffee growers, resulting in unfair wages, habitat degradation, and the heavy use of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and synthetic fertilizers.
KUA Students wanted coffee that would support fair wages for farmers and be absent of the worst environmental downsides, but solutions like third-party certification (FairTrade®) cost extra. Their solution both upgrades KUA’s coffee while also reducing costs. Last spring, graduating seniors made donations of coffee mugs from the colleges they are attending this fall. They intend for this to be an ongoing tradition, so that any mug losses are renewed annually at no additional cost to the dining hall budget. At the same time, they convinced the Academy to remove disposable paper cups and plastic lids from the coffee station. In addition to the positive environmental impact of reducing paper and plastic use, they project an annual savings of approximately $7000 including the avoided waste disposal costs. It will take only a fraction of these savings to upgrade our coffee to something more sustainable.
The program was launched in September and the savings have been rapidly accruing. Today is International Coffee Day, and to celebrate our new mug program, SAGE Dining will be holding a tasting event for students that features a selection of coffee roasts proposed by current Sustainabilitystudents and SAGE chefs. Each roast meets our priorities for social justice and environmental sustainability. The final step is to select one that meets our collective gustatory preferences, and we plan to do so based on votes from students and faculty.
If you are interested in contributing to the effort, we still need more coffee mugs. Any fun ones are welcome, but we love celebrating education, so college mugs will be especially appreciated.
Founded in 1813, Kimball Union Academy is one of the oldest private boarding high schools in New Hampshire and the country. KUA blends the best of the New England boarding tradition with an innovative, modern educational program for a diverse group of day and boarding students from across the country and around the world. Located in Meriden, New Hampshire in the heart of the Upper Valley, Kimball Union is minutes from Dartmouth College and has direct access to Boston and New York.