Guest Post: Five Simple Reasons to Support Fair Trade
One of the issues with fair trade is that people don’t know enough about it.
It is easier for us to buy a product and never question where it comes from, who made it and why it costs the amount stamped onto the price tag. We also never think about who might be losing out. This is something we should be thinking about because somewhere, somebody has gone through a great deal of effort to ensure that we have the luxury of quality produce. The sole purpose of fair trade is to ensure that farmers, textile workers and other traders get paid a fair amount of money for their goods – but converting people is not so easy.
Here are five reasons’ to support fair trade that you’ve probably never thought about before. These will not only benefit you, but they will benefit others across the world – so now you can shop guilt free!
The quality of imported fair trade goods is far superior to that of cheaply, mass-produced alternatives. Craft and garments sold by the likes of Traidcraft have been made individually with extra care so that the quality is of a higher standard. Plus they are all made of fine, organically sourced materials which have a lower economic impact than those synthetically produced in factories.
Many people are apprehensive about fair trade because of the encouragement we’ve received to buy local products to reduce our carbon footprint. Whilst we should support our own economy no less, there are some things that we do not have the resources to farm. Things like cotton, chocolate, coffee, gold, wine, sugar; bananas and exotic fruit are not grown in the UK and must be sourced from elsewhere. Buying these goods fair trade ensures that the farmers who grow and manufacture these goods will receive the deal that they deserve and that you can enjoy quality, natural produce with a clear conscience.
It Really Does Help
From putting money into the pocket of a lone farmer to improving the overall working conditions in developing countries, fair trade can make a small difference or a large scale impact on society. The real issue is that the Western world is very much centred on a culture of commodity. In spite of this, when we buy from other countries we are not giving them an equal trade or a fair price. Fair trade encourages workplaces and business to be built and run ethically as well as for workers to be paid a reasonable amount of wages to support their livelihoods when we buy from them.
There are more Fair Trade Goods Than You Think
One of the main concerns we have when being persuaded to buy fair trade is that we do not know where to start.
There are a growing number of small but wholly ethical trading companies who sell hand-made gifts as well as clothes, wine, recycled products and even Christmas cards.
Likewise, we find that bigger companies are also wavering to the pressures of ethical trading. Chocolate company Cadbury’s slapped a fair trade label on their bestselling Dairy Milk bars in 2009 whilst US ice-cream creators Ben and Jerry’s launched their fourth fair trade flavour Chocolate Macadamia Nut that same year. According to the Guardian, there are now 4,000 fair trade products on the market.
Individual products bought from a super market, for example Sainsbury’s, should carry the blue and green Fair Trade logo. It’s a good start but the consumer industry has a long way to go before becoming fully ethical.
Being a supporter of fair trade fashion doesn’t mean having to wear trousers made of hemp.
Celebrity endorsements and encouragement from fashion schools like Central St. Martin’s, where students use ethical fabric for their designs, are attempting to sculpt the future off fair trade fashion.
Earlier this year, celebrities such as Emma Watson jumped on board to design fair trade T-shirts made from 100% organic cotton whilst fashion high street brands such as Topshop, Debenhams, Laura Ashley, Marks & Spencer and Monsoon have started selling selected fair trade garments. Even H&M participates in the Fair Labour Association and sportswear brand Deuter supports the Fair Wear Foundation.
The hope is that one day that the fair trade culture will no longer apply to a minority of products. The reasons to support fair trade are simple and clear. We want a fair global economy and every individual counts in making a difference.
This article was written by Nicola Hall on behalf of Traidcraft UK, a leading supplier of fair trade products.