Make no bones about it: Earth Day is more than just a novelty annual event. First celebrated in 1970 following a catastrophic oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara the year prior, generations since have dedicated April 22 to reflect on — and make alterations to — lifestyle choices that have a negative impact on the planet. A measurable yardstick for that impact used by both large industries and individuals is the carbon footprint we leave behind on a daily basis.
There also exist more visible markers of environmental degradation caused by human activity: in Indonesia, the acreage of tropical rainforests are dramatically reduced every year to make way for industrial developments and agriculture crops. A Duke University researcher states that up to 600,000 hectares of primary Indonesian forest were lost annually between 2008 and 2010; this number increased to a whopping annual loss of 800,000 hectares between 2014 and 2016 (source). Despite government moratoriums and outcries from international NGOs, lush forests and peatlands continue to be razed for mining facilities and large scale plantations.
In addition to deforestation, Indonesia’s waterways are also suffering from the effects of agriculture and aquaculture. Due to lack of industrial process regulations, toxic agricultural and factory wastes are disposed into rivers that flow into larger bodies of water, causing pollution to travel kilometers, and then compromising any marine life in its path (http://kophi.or.id/kerusakan-air-di-indonesia/). Minimal enforcement of regulation in the seas has also resulted in overfishing and illegal fishing activities, causing in a sharp decline in potential yields every year since 2011 (source).
It is not uncommon for developing countries sacrifice the long-term health of the environment in the name of rapid economic development. Mining and agricultural crop businesses open new job opportunities to thousands of locals, a policy that governments encourage to ignite economic growth. As governments strive to create policies that create job opportunities for Indonesians without further exhausting natural resources and compromising the environment, what can we do in the meantime to help lighten the load?
At Krakakoa, we find ourselves at the intersection of environmental conservation and providing economic opportunities to Indonesians. This is made possible by placing both priorities at the forefront of the Krakakoa mission. Our partner farmers use environmentally-friendly farming methods to produce cacao that goes into award-winning chocolate bars. The combination of engaging in eco-friendly production methods to produce an in-demand product proves that it is no longer expensive or anomalous to enjoy a product made with a minimal carbon footprint in mind.
Every purchase of a Krakakoa bar is a vote for and investment towards sustainable industries that do not place additional stress to the planet. On this Earth Day, take into consideration your purchasing and consumption habits: where do your consumables come from, and what can you do to make the switch to products and lifestyles with a smaller carbon footprint?