Monday marked the beginning of Fairtrade fortnight, so yes, I am continuing with the theme of “this week it’s…” After all, the reason these events exist is to raise awareness of an issue and to inform the general public about ways in which they can contribute. I suppose I am only doing my duty as a blogger by passing information on.
I think Fairtrade, as a concept, affects us all in the UK and beyond. Simply because we are all consumers, and we are always on the hunt for a decent bargain. With the economy in the state that it is, it’s only natural to opt for a product which is reliable and affordable. The latter is certainly not often the case with Fairtrade products. From coffee, to chocolate, to cotton, branding something as ‘Fairtrade’ often involves jacking up the price.
What are our thoughts on this?
People who can afford ‘quality’ products often shop at luxury stores and therefore pay higher prices for seemingly higher-end items which are sometimes marketed as more ethical, sustainable or Fairtrade. I’ll give Marks and Spencers as an example, who, commendably are wholly engaging with the public to create a more sustainable, ethical and environmentally supportive business. Not only through the way the operate, but also through the products they sell. However, I for one can not afford to do my weekly food shopping at M&S- so should we place all responsibility on those consumers, who can afford it, to support the Fairtrade movement? Should the rest of us have to choose between overspending and helping and not?
You may ask, who benefits from my Fairtrade purchase? A list of producers can be found on the website, but in short it depends on the product you are buying. The premium from Fairtrade can contribute to simple things like allowing coffee farmers to afford to grow organically. Often it is used to create sustainable communities and can benefit many families by providing access to clean water and buying bicycle ambulances (Malawi).
A campaign video for Fairtrade mentions the word ‘choice’ repeatedly, in the sense that ‘the right’ choice will bring about a positive outcome for someone in the developing world. But should there be a choice…shouldn’t everything just simply be Fairtrade?
What a set of questions? And how do you begin to answer them? Thankfully I don’t have to, as during my research, I stumbled across a piece of writing that I really wish I had written. so you may as well read this instead!
The Guardian really are choosing to focus on Fairtrade Fortnight, as they have also posted online the following article: How to teach Fairtrade Fortnight. If you are a teacher, or work in an educational capacity, consider taking a look at the resources available and dedicating some time with your students to exploring how the Fairtrade movement affects their lives.
If you are considering making a few simple changes to your routine and are interested in purchasing Fairtrade alternatives, Channel 4 Food have listed their top-ten favourite products. View them here:
If you’re confused as to what technically counts as fairtrade, visit the website mentioned above, or as always, just look at the WIkipedia site!
Enjoy your week and the next time you buy a banana/chocolate bar or shop in Primark, take a moment to consider who contributed to the making of your product and how fairly they may or may not have been treated. It may not be your responsibility to change the world, but it wouldn’t hurt to try.