There are a lot of stories about Fairtrade products, some are so good that they will make you look for the Fairtrade mark on your next supermarket visit, others are so scary they make you cry about the situation some producers live in. Below we will try in a few lines to identify what Fairtrade truly means, we will give some facts and figures as well as what buying Fairtrade really means.
A bit of background
Fair Trade today is a global organisation/movement. It started in the United States, where Ten Thousand Villages began buying needlework from Puerto Rico in 1946, and SERRV began to trade with poor communities in the South in the late 1940s. The first formal “Fair Trade” shop which sold these and other items opened in 1958 in the USA. In Europe Fair Trade started from the late 1950s when Oxfam UK started to sell crafts made by Chinese refugees in Oxfam shops. In 1964, it created the first Fair Trade Organisation. Parallel initiatives were taking place in the Netherlands and in 1967 the importing organisation, Fair Trade Original, was established.
What is Fairtrade & how it really works
Fairtrade started as a mission, a vision if you prefer, to make the lives of the people who grow and produce the things we consume a bit better. This is done by conducting a fair trade with them. It’s simple really. Fairtrade has set some standards, social, economic and environmental, if companies, farmers and workers follow these then they get the FAIRTRADE Mark on the products they sell.
Fairtrade works with better prices that allow decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world. By requiring companies to pay sustainable prices, Fairtrade addresses the injustices of conventional trade, which traditionally discriminate against the poorest, weakest producers. It enables them to improve their position and have more control over their lives. Basically, even the little guys can have a chance to sell their products in a decent price allowing them to live with decency.
At the early stages of the Fairtrade movement, the Fair Trade products were sold mainly in Fair Trade Shops, now you can find Fairtrade products from your local supermarket to your coffee at Starbucks and in the clothes you are wearing.
Myths and Reality
There are so many myths involved the Fair Trade. From conspiracy theories to deification. But the ones that we at Eco Wear felt we needed to clarify is that Fair Trade is a charity that gives big salaries to workers & farmers in under developed countries. This is very far from the truth. What Fair trade does is sets up a minimum price for a product, based on true production cost, life cost, effort involved etc. Let’s take an example from a product we sell, a Fairtrade T-Shirt, made with Fairtrade cotton.
The cotton is produced by farmers that sell their cotton at a set min price, this means that if one farmer produces tens of tons of cotton every year and another one only a few hundred kg from his tiny lot, they will both sell it at min price the Fairtrade organization has set, which is enough for the small farmer to cover his costs, and make a decent living. The big player also is benefited by the fact that this selling price will allow him to give living wages to his workers, keep them happy and healthy and at the same time have some money to invest in the environment, let’s say to start growing organic cotton.
This is the true meaning and benefit of the Fair Trade.
Here at Eco Wear we try to have most of our products Fair Trade, you can have a look and search for them at our website https://eco-wear.co.uk/
If you are interested in learning more have a look at the below article of the Fair Trade Federation https://www.fairtradefederation.org/fair-trade-myths/
And the UK Fairtrade Foundation http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/