Monday, 27 February 2012

Fairtrade Fortnight

Today is the first day of the 2012 Fairtrade Fortnight, two weeks of promoting, celebrating and learning about fairer deals for producers around the world, run by the fantastic Fairtrade Foundation.

Fairtrade Fortnight started back in 1995 and since then has proved to be a brilliant way of introducing people to the huge number of Fairtrade products you can find, as well as reminding us Fairtrade veterans that we need to keep looking for new products and not just be satisfied with our tea, bananas and chocolate.

This year the campaign is Take a Step for Fairtrade, asking everyone to join in the Fairtrade journey and step up their efforts to make our world fairer. Whether it's your first ever Fairtrade cuppa, joining a campaign for your town to gain Fairtrade status or running your own event you can track every step you take, and what others are doing on the website here.

But why is Fairtrade important? We rely on developing countries to produce many of our everyday products, and often these producers are trapped in poverty by the rules of world trade, powerless to change them. With prices cutting ever lower they can't earn enough to cover their costs and have nothing to save for their families or bad crop years in the future.

This sounds terrible and it is. But thankfully we're not powerless, consumer choices is one of the best ways to show big shops that we want change. Choosing Fairtrade offers farmers and workers a better chance to work their way out of poverty. Fairtrade products guarantee fair wages, safer working conditions and a little extra to invest into projects that will improve life for whole communities.

In current times it may seem silly to choose the more expensive options, but a few pennies differences make all the difference at the other end of the production chain. And I promise you that knowing your using, eating or cooking Fairtrade products adds a sweetness that beats any savings. Much better than the bitter thought that you're helping to keep people in poverty.

So join the revolution, find an event in your area, buy something you've never tried before and go on the website to find out more about this amazing mission.

I've decided to set myself a few challenges too this Fortnight. I thought about making sure I use a Faritrade product every day, but with Fairtrade tea every morning that would be a bit too easy. Instead I'm going to set myself two tasks:

1)To buy a Fairtrade product every day
2) To research and blog about a different type of Fairtrade product each day.

So, for today, I'm going to restock our house with Fairtrade tea from the Co-op.
Fairtrade often comes hand in hand with cooperatives, not just selling in the UK but also when the tea is being produced. In Sri Lanka the Fairtrade Foundation are working with Mr Wijethilleke who, with the help of Bio Foods, has set up the Small Organic Foods Association while restarting his family's small tea farm. This cooperative has about 30 small local farmers who were struggling to compete with the big tea plantations in the area. As well as making a stronger selling power the cooperative allows farmers to share knowledge and access training programmes. It's not easy but with hard work and perseverance things are getting better for the community. As the group expands they can employ more workers, often the unemployed sons and daughters of the farmers, and through this they also get a good education. The Bio Foods group also use the Fairtrade money to set up free clinic days in the area and fund short term loans when times are tough.  Not bad for a simple cup of tea!

I'm not sure how the next 13 days will go but there's no harm in aiming high. I'd love to hear what you're doing for Fairtrade Fortnight so comment and share your stories. Good Luck!

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