What is “Fair Trade”? Or “Fairtrade”?
In our (fairly) comfortable Western lifestyles, when shit happened and the ‘economic crisis’ started, we were told to go out and spend money in order to keep the economy going. Think about that. The power right there in your hands. Is our spending power worth more than our right to vote? Well, it might be if you had the money there to spend. And therein lies the problem of our society. The more money you have, the more power you seem to be able to wield. Most of us are happy enough without millions, but too many of us are at the bottom end, ignored by those at the top.
Fair Trade as a concept is not just about the ‘developing’ world, though of course that’s where its roots are and where it currently is gaining greater momentum. It can apply here too. It seeks to redress the balance; to give people a fairer say in their lives. A chance to live with a little dignity and a chance of giving people and their families more opportunities. Poverty is a cycle that is hard to pull away from. Governments and corporations in the developed world have many ways to ensures millions in less affluent countries remain that way. And you don’t hear about it that much. You don’t notice. No one will tell you that the people who harvested your produce, your coffee, your cocoa, or mined the components for your latest electronic gadget, exist in marginal conditions, perhaps with little chance to lift themselves and create a better life. But Fair Trade does give people a chance and simply by being a consumer, by purchasing Fair Trade products you have the power to give these people a better life.
Below are some of the logos you might see on certain products when you’re out shopping. Having this displayed on a product guarantees that it has been certified independently. Typical examples are coffee, cocoa/chocolate, tea, bananas, sugar, but the list is growing more extensive every week. As with many other products, beware of false and misleading claims…