Fairtrade Fortnight: What Does Fair Trade Mean To You?
During the weeks preceding Fairtrade Fortnight and during the fortnight itself, we’re having a think about our own relationships with fair trade and what it means to us. This question has certainly got the old grey matter working in our office, and we’ve discovered that each and every individual has a truly unique relationship with fair trade. Here’s an insight into what fair trade means to some of us.
“Fair trade means so many different things to so many different people.
For landless women in Honduras whose husbands have all fled north to avoid the drug cartels, it means an economic alternative to decamping to the slums where they and their children risk human and/or sex trafficking.
For a concerned consumer in Britain, it offers one small, anonymous opportunity to show solidarity with poorer communities in the developing world.
For an international trader moving hundreds of containers of raw materials a day, it means yet another certification process that needs to be completed.
For the small, indigenous community picking wild tea in the golden triangle around Thailand and Laos, it is an alternative to harvesting opium.
For the committed volunteer trying to explain that international trade is unjust, it is a handy tool to make very complex issues approachable and understandable.
To many individual children, particularly girls, who have grown up with the benefits of education in their communities, it offers an escape from grinding poverty.
For some communities, it has meant the chance to invest in alternative money-making schemes to minimize the risk of 100% reliance on cash crops.
For me, it means having a purpose.” Robin, Traidcraft CEO
“Fair trade to me is about making a difference, it’s about ensuring that everyone in the chain is paid a fair wage, whilst being empowered. It’s about producers receiving the same things that we take for granted – housing, clean water, education and healthcare.” Kirsty, Traidcraft Merchandising Manager and Buyer
“For me fair trade is about empowering people. From empowering the producer/artisans in what they do by receiving a fair price and premiums they are empowered to strive forward, take pride in what they do and also help their community while also empowering people to buy fair trade and do the right thing.” Lizy, Traidcraft Product Development
“Fair trade for me is about empowerment. Empowerment of people and empowerment of the environment. If at any point in a product’s journey, a person or their environment has been disempowered, that product can never truly be considered fair.” Matt, National Sales Manager
“To me, fair trade doesn’t just mean considering the producers and artisans in the developing world, but also being mindful of small, local farmers in the UK, who are constantly battling against big corporations. We want to shop safe in the knowledge that a fair amount of the money we pay for an item is going to them, which is the reassurance you are gifted when you shop fair trade. Fair trade is also about shopping consciously and thinking about the product’s journey, as well as its impact on the producer and the planet.” Sarah, Traidcraft Content Strategist
“Fair trade is important to me, as I know that buying fair trade is supporting the freedom and independence of the people who are making, growing and crafting the products that I buy. Buying a fair trade product is reassurance that more of my money is going to them, rather than to the middle man!
It’s also become increasingly important to me to know that fair trade is often about sustainable and environmental farming practices too, with co-operatives educating and supporting farmers in more environmental practices, and often organic farming techniques, freeing them from being beholden to the big companies who monopolise growing practices, from seed purchasing to pesticides and fertilisers.” Jo, Traidcraft Digital Marketing Manager
“Firstly; fair trade is a tool to address the unequal power relationships and exploitation present in conventional supply chains. Thus, fair trade is about justice; as it is a way to empower farmer and artisan organisations who lack negotiation power in commodity trading. Also, it is about providing a dignified income for the work of those farmers and artisans.
Secondly, fair trade is about knowledge and transparency which empowers final customers to buy products they know where they come from; who has harvested or made them and under which conditions - e.g. without child or forced labour, treating women and men equally.
Finally; fair trade is about a movement which includes people and organisations from any corner of the planet. This is a movement who cares both about people and planet. Thus, for a fair trade business, profitability is not the ultimate goal; but one goal among other equally important goals such as treating people fairly and producing and trading in a sustainable way. It is about a fairer creation and distribution of wealth without putting in jeopardy neither the current or future generations.” Zenen, Traidcraft Exchange Supply Chain Development & Business Support
“When I think of fair trade, I think of a community of people believing in the same thing. Believing in that we should all be fair in every aspect of life, especially in trading. It’s so important for transparency to move humanity forward as a whole.” Rio, Traidcraft Digital Marketing Executive
“To me, fair trade is recognising the importance of equality, challenging the injustices that exist in conventional trade and making a small, but important, difference to other peoples’ lives.” Jude, Traidcraft Sales Executive
Hopefully having a read through what fair trade means to us has been interesting and encouraged you to have a think about what fair trade means to you. If you wouldn’t mind sharing what fair trade means to you, we’d love to hear some of your thoughts!