Buy Fairtrade products to replace everyday shopping choices!
Ethical and Fairtrade products are everywhere - if you look. Here's a challenging article by Whitney Kakos, Impact and Sustainability Manager of Cafédirect about the importance of Fairtrade and Fairtrade Fortnight which takes place every year in early spring.
It's easy in February and early March to get lost within your own concerns. Days are short, cold and dark, and the visible toll on your bank account - to make no mention of your waistline - is a constant reminder that Christmas has been and gone.
Which is why I always think that Fairtrade Fortnight, which straddles the rump of winter and the beginning of spring, is perfectly timed.
Taking place between the last week of February and the beginning of March, Fairtrade Fortnight, for those unfamiliar with the name, is a two-week celebration of fair and ethical trading. It's a chance to remind ourselves that as ethical shoppers, the items we buy, however banal and everyday, can powerfully shape the world as a better, fairer place.
Fairtrade is of course nothing new. In 2010, the Fairtrade Foundation marked its 15th birthday and Cafédirect, the hot drinks Fairtrade pioneer, was set up three years prior to that. But as the UK slowly claws itself towards economic recovery, its message and mission have never been more important.
So what is Fairtrade?
The idea is to guarantee growers or producers in developing countries a fair and stable price for their crops, which in turn ensures that they can plan ahead and make a decent living.
But it's also about decent working conditions, environmental safeguards and reducing some of the disproportionate risks of conventional trade, which traditionally discriminates against the poorest, weakest producers.
In a nutshell, it gives farmers and workers more control over their lives.
When you buy Fairtrade certified goods, an additional amount (a social premium) goes towards the development of the producers’ local communities. Decisions about how to spend the extra money are taken democratically and typical projects include scholarships for children and building schools and health clinics. This gives the people and families that produce your Fairtrade goods the chance to build a future without poverty.
Cafédirect goes far beyond these requirements by developing long term, direct relationships with all our grower partners and by investing our profits back into their organisations. Each year we plough back more than 50% of our annual profits into smallholder growers’ businesses and communities. This enables us to support additional programmes on the ground, focusing on issues as wide-ranging as gender empowerment, quality improvement and climate change.
The climate change connection
The link between smallholder agriculture and climate change is becoming increasingly important. As environmental conditions change, so too do farming conditions, and what benefit is a guaranteed fair price for crops that can’t be grown in the first place? This is precisely why Cafédirect set up AdapCC - spending the past three years working with tea, coffee and cocoa growers living and farming on the climate change frontline. Working in partnership with the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ), the initiative pioneered ways for small farmers to adapt to changing climatic conditions.
It’s all pretty compelling stuff, but perhaps most importantly, you too have the power to make all this happen. Since projects like these are entirely funded by sales of everyday Fairtrade products, you can make a difference by simply choosing to shop differently …from buying fairly traded tea, coffee and cocoa to fruit, sugar and spices - even wine and footballs!
And it’s this core change in mindset that’s at the heart of Fairtrade Fortnight’s Big Swap campaign.
The aim of The Big Swap is simply to buy a Fairtrade alternative instead of one of your usual purchases, from tea bags to T-shirts, and in doing so show your support for marginalised producers.
The Fairtrade Foundation is aims to get a massive one million and one people making the ‘swap’ during the Fortnight, with people and organisations taking part all over the country.
The good news for British shoppers is there’s no shortage of choice. In all, there are over 3,000 Fairtrade certified products sold almost all around the UK: you can find them in major supermarkets and many smaller independent shops, in cafés and restaurants. If you need catering supplies or you buy goods wholesale you can also find Fairtrade products. They are also available through many online shopping channels, like www.ethicalsuperstore.com or www.cafedirect.co.uk/shop.
With making the big swap being that easy, why wouldn’t you join in?
This article is by Whitney Kakos, Impact and Sustainability Manager, Cafédirect
The Big Swap was a Fairtrade Foundation (UK) promotion for Fairtrade fortnight in 2010 - but as the rest of this article is still relevant I have left it up for now. I hope everyone who tends towards green living will recognise the benefits of fair trade and will support the fair trade movement.
For more about Fairtrade and fairtrade products in the UK please also see: www.fairtrade.org.uk
In other counties the fair trade movement has developed different organisations to promote the idea. Here are a few links to some of those organisations:
www.fairtrade.net - Fairtrade International - You can find many individual countries organisations from this site.
www.fairtradefederation.org Fair Trade Federation