For products we can't produce locally (tea, coffee, chocolate, rice, spices etc) we encourage local shops to stock, and people to buy, Fairtrade goods because this not only ensures fair prices and conditions for producers in the developing world, but also that these items are produced in lowest-carbon ways possible. See why below.
"Now we use organic inputs, fewer insecticides and more compost. There has been an improvement in the quality of the cotton and a better yield”
Moussa Keita, Mali
The benefits of Fairtrade
1 Sustainable production: Fairtrade mainly supports small-scale farms, which are more sustainable than large-scale ones, reducing soil erosion, using water more efficiently, increasing biodiversity and preserving soil fertility. The Fairtrade price ensures that small farmers are not taken over by unsustainable agribusinesses.
2 Lower carbon forms of transport: The majority of Fairtrade products are transported by ship, which has a carbon footprint approximately 100 times less per tonne than air or road freight.
3 Investment in low-carbon technologies: Fairtrade farmers must meet a set of environmental standards which include changes towards low-carbon production. The Fairtrade premium enables farmers to invest in alternative technologies to reduce their reliance on oil-based chemical fertilisers, wood fuel etc.
4 Reduced use of chemicals and improved management of natural resources: Environmental targets are set for reducing the use of chemical fertilisers and managing resources such as water, forests, etc.
5 Protection of rainforests: By intercropping traditional crops with cash crops that grow naturally in the rainforest, such as cocoa and brazil nuts, small-scale farmers are able to make a living from the rainforest without destroying it
6 Increased local production: The financial security given by Fairtrade means that farmers can use some of their land to grow crops for local consumption, enabling a more sustainable balance between trade and local production
7 Greater equality and democracy: Fairtrade farmers are required to form co-operatives to strengthen their bargaining power and to ensure democratic decision-making. This has especially benefited women, who are now treated as equals.
8 Communities learning from each other: Fairtrade has brought diverse communities from across the world together, enabling cross-fertilisation of ideas and a sharing of knowledge. It has also brought producers and consumers closer as we learn more about the people who produce our food.
9 Access to training and advice: The support offered by Fairtrade enables communities to explore more sustainable ways of farming and how to develop resilience to peak oil and climate change.
10 Fairness: Fairtrade prevents buyers passing the risks associated with market fluctuations onto the farmer. All farmers have an equal say in decision-making. Child slave labour is banned, and the Fairtrade price means producers are able to pay their workers and are not dependent on slave labour in order to survive.
For a more in-depth exploration of some of these issues, see More about Fairtrade
For the last three years we have run some great events promoting Fairtrade and linking it with local trade and local produce. These have won us awards from the Fairtrade Foundation.
Fairtrade Fortnight 2014
Fairtrade Fortnight this year focused on how a supermarket price war here is forcing banana growers into poverty (for details, see here). We were visited by Alexis Martinez, a Colombian banana grower, who described the problem at first hand, and the protection Fairtrade gives growers like himself. He also judged the banana cookery competition and joined us for another Hungry Gap dinner at Domali's.
We also ran a film night and discussion, bicycle-powered Fairtrade smoothies outside Sainsbury’s, story telling for children and a Fairtrade stall at the Food Market.
Fairtrade Fortnight 2013
Our events in 2013 focused on Food, both local and Fairtrade. They included a debate, a film night, bicycle-powered Fairtrade smoothies outside Sainsbury's, an amazing puppet show put on by the children of James Dixon school alongside Fairtrade food tasting and 'bite-size talks' in the library, a fabulous concert with local bands and a 'Hungry Gap' dinner in Domali, using only locally produced and Fairtrade ingredients, with two visiting Fairtrade cocoa producers. Both concert and dinner raised money for the local Foodbank.
Fairtrade Fortnight 2012
Our first Fairtrade Fortnight kicked off with the screening of the award-winning documentary Black Gold and included smoothie-making outside Sainsbury's, a children's event in the library, an amazing fashion show exhibiting the wares of local vintage and second-hand shops and accessories made by local designers as well as clothes produced using Fairtrade cotton, and the whole event was rounded off by an evening of Fairtrade wine and beer tasting. For more, see p.13 in The Transmitter