Look for Fair Trade chocolate this Hallowe’en

Just about everyone loves chocolate – but here’s a bit of reality that isn’t so sweet: most of the world’s cocoa (the key ingredient in chocolate) is grown in West Africa by small producers who barely eke out a living, and child labour is widespread. The store that sells you a chocolate bar typically makes a lot more money on it than the farmer who produced the cocoa in the first place.

So why not look foFair Trader the Fair Trade logo when you shop for treats? Fair Trade is an international certification system whereby farmers receive a reliable and decent income that helps them live better lives, and can even elevate their families and communities out of poverty. And it’s not an empty certification: Fair Trade products are independently monitored to ensure they meet standards of financial and environmental sustainability.

Fair Trade products still only represent a small share of the total chocolate market, so you’ll have to look for them. But Cadbury, Ferrero, Mars, Nestle and Hershey’s have a few Fair Trade products and are working toward the goal of 100% sustainable, ethical cocoa by 2020. As well, a list of lesser-known brands presently offering Fair Trade chocolate (and other products) can be found here.

So – why not choose Fair Trade chocolate at Hallowe’en and anytime? You’ll be bringing a bit of sweetness to the lives of the people who grow it for you.

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Dress up those ‘holes in your walls’ with drapes or blinds

Windows are essential features of homes, but when it comes to heat loss, they’re almost like holes in your walls. Consider this: a well insulated wall has a rating of R-40 (where R means resistance to heat loss), but even quality double-paned windows have ratings of only R-3 to R-4.

That’s why drapes and blinds can be a good investment: pulled closed at night, they act as blankets over windows, reducing heat loss. In particular, well installed drapes made of tightly woven fabric can reduce a room’s heat loss by 10% or more. Blinds aren’t as effective as drapes, but they still make a positive difference.

So why not look into drapes or blinds for your home, or if you have them already, use them to reduce your heating costs. Learn more here.