The first Fairtrade label was launched in 1988. In the earliest days Fairtrade used to be about buying coffee and tea that was not necessarily to your personal taste preference because of the wider good that it provided for the growers of coffee beans and tea plants. Thankfully that is no longer the case. Now the tea and coffee are delicious and there’s a wide range of teas and coffees from which to choose. I even have a Starbucks coffee on my desk as I type – and they have gone Fairtrade. Add to that Cadbury’s with Dairy Milk and Nestle with KitKat and the mid-morning break has never had such a clean conscience.
It’s not just tea, coffee and the occasional snack. Our church is a Fairtrade church – the lovely tea and coffee people drink after the service is Fairtrade. There are now Fairtrade TOWNS! All manner of fruit and veg are now Fairtrade along with plenty of other food products. I have Fairtrade trousers and jumpers. You can even get Fairtrade pants! There are Fairtrade footballs now too, wouldn’t it be great to see them used at the World Cup – some lobbying needed.
We are in the middle of Fairtrade Fortnight. If you want to know more about Fairtrade visit www.fairtrade.org.uk and see what changes you can make that will make a real difference to the people at the wrong end of the supply chain. To quote the blurb from the Fairtrade Foundation:
“Two billion people – a third of humanity – still survives on less than $2 a day. While unfair trade rules keep them in poverty, they face the global challenges of food shortages and climate change too. Conventional trade doesn’t have them in mind. It can’t guarantee them a decent price. And it won’t provide them with a good honest living either. All of us can change this. Together. We can all make a difference. Every time we go shopping. Just one little swap at a time.”
It’s sobering stuff, yet also delightful because the growth of Fairtrade from small beginnings is phenomenal. It shows that while on our own each of us is a tiny ant on the global marketplace, together all of us can make a real difference to the way the world trades and (more importantly) to the lives of people on whom we depend for much of the food and drink that we consume and clothes we wear.
So go on. Think of at least one product you can swap from conventional to Fairtrade and do it.