Thursday, 23 February 2012

Take a Step for Fairtrade

When it comes to ‘big’ issues like climate change or social justice, have you often thought about how you can make a difference, but aren’t convinced that something you do could actually change anything? If so, you’re not alone. It’s only natural to think that big issues need big solutions and making a small change to your everyday life isn’t going to make much of a difference. However, people power has always been the bedrock of our social democracy - just take a look at the impact and influence organisations like 38 Degrees can achieve when you and I decide to join forces to have our say or make our mark.

Cue the Fairtrade Foundation. Around this time every year, they launch a campaign to coincide with Fairtrade Fortnight. And this year their ‘Take a Step’ campaign aims to encourage us all to engage with the Fairtrade Foundation’s vision of an even bigger movement for positive change and take a small step towards a fairer world. They’re challenging us to take a step in the right direction by thinking about what we, as individuals, can do every day, every week or every month throughout 2012 to make a difference to the lives of farmers in the developing world who produce the products we buy.

So often, becoming more ‘ethical’ isn’t always seen as particularly sexy. Dispelling that myth is onfriday’s reason-to-be, but that’s another story for another day perhaps! Many of us believe that making changes is all about making sacrifices and having to compromise. The change is too big, too significant and too inconvenient. However, it doesn’t need to be like that. It’s about small changes, small steps.

A small step could be choosing to buy a Fairtrade coffee on your way to work, or making sure that the weekly shopping basket contains one or two more Fairtrade products like Fairtrade tea, chocolate, sugar, rice, bananas, honey or flowers. Small changes made by lots of us will make a difference.

But what sort of difference? What makes Fairtrade, well, fair trade? The Fairtrade Mark you see on products in our shops is a guarantee that the product has been certified against internationally agreed Fairtrade standards – fairer prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world who produce the products. Essentially, it’s about addressing the injustices of conventional trade, which traditionally discriminates against the poorest, weakest producers, enabling them to improve their position and have more control over their lives. And then there’s the Fairtrade premium – money paid on top of the Fairtrade minimum price that’s invested in social, environmental and economic development projects chosen by the local farmers and workers. More about this in my next blog…

So, why not take a step for Fairtrade? Here’s lots more information about the Fairtrade Foundation’s Take a Step Campaign – you can even register your step too… 


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