May is Fairtrade month and May 12th (this Saturday) is Fairtrade Day! This is where we celebrate the social, environmental and economic benefits of choosing Fairtrade!
From 1.66 million Fairtrade farmers and workers in the Global South, to 200+ licensees and traders in Canada, Fairtrade month draws attention to the many many people involved in bring Fairtrade products to your community.
When you choose Fairtrade, your decision is a part of a chain reaction. In that single decision you are protecting worker’s rights, protecting the environment, and investing in communities, businesses and projects.
Fairtrade works to benefit small-scale farmers and workers through trade rather than aid. This ensures that they are able to maintain their livelihoods, creating a more sustainable and just system for some of the most marginalized peoples in the world.
“It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny.
Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality.
“Did you ever stop to think that you can’t leave for your job in the morning without being dependent on most of the world? You get up in the morning and go to the bathroom and reach over for the sponge, and that’s handed to you by a Pacific islander. You reach for a bar of soap, and that’s given to you at the hands of a Frenchman. And then you go into the kitchen to drink your coffee for the morning, and that’s poured into your cup by a South American. And maybe you want tea: that’s poured into your cup by a Chinese. Or maybe you’re desirous of having cocoa for breakfast, and that’s poured into your cup by a West African. And then you reach over for your toast, and that’s given to you at the hands of an English-speaking farmer, not to mention the baker. And before you finish eating breakfast in the morning, you’ve depended on more than half the world.
“This is the way our universe is structured, this is its interrelated quality. We aren’t going to have peace on Earth until we recognize this basic fact of the interrelated structure of all reality.”
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 1967
Now, Dr. King may not have been referring to Fairtrade products in particular, but this notion of interconnectedness is something that fascinates me. The clothes we wear, the food we eat, the resources we use are all connected to people and communities around the world. Therefore, our everyday decisions determine the sustainability and future of our planet and each other.
Certification & Model
For certain products (coffee, cocoa, cotton, and rice), Fairtrade only certifies small-scale farmer organizations, ensuring that livelihoods are protected. For other products (bananas, teas, and flowers) Fairtrade certifies some plantations that allow large-scale production units to protect their worker’s basic rights such as freedom of association, prevention of child labour, safe and healthy workspaces, and adequate wages.
Whichever the method of certification, Fairtrade works to protect and sustain the social well-being of producers, the environment and natural resources, and economic models that support small-scale businesses.
Compared to other business and trade models, fair trade as a concept focuses on partnerships between producers and consumers. In fact, Fairtrade is 50% owned by producers which means they have a say in decision making, resources, prices, and standards. In addition, Fairtrade enacts minimum pricing and premium. Minimum pricing acts as a safety net, covering the cost of sustainable production so that the trading system, the people involved, and the products can last a long time. The Fairtrade Premium is an additional sum of money that goes into a communal fund to improve social, environmental, and economic conditions.
Events & Opportunities
World Fairtrade Day – Saturday, May 12
Celebrate in your physical or digital community! Use the links below to share interesting facts and stories about how Fairtrade and fair trade choices continue to make a difference in the world!
Ten Thousand Villages Plaza – May 12
Celebrations will include chocolate, tea, coffee, and dried fruit samples, gift basket draw, Fair Trade Roses for Mother’s Day, live music, and more!
Fair Trade Alliance / Grant Park Mall – May 12
Celebrations will include fair trade roses, chocolate, gift draws and more!
Where do your products come from?
Resources & Tools
Lesson Plan: Kenya Coffee – ideal for business studies and geography