Saturday, 3 March 2012

Rags to Riches, or back into poverty?

All week I've been talking about food and drink but there's so much more to Fairtrade than that. Cotton is the most used natural fibre in the world, but farmers in West Africa are stuck in poverty because cotton prices are kept low by government subsidised cotton farms in the US and EU.

Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali are known as the Cotton 4 and rely on cotton more than anything else for their export revenues, they are among the least developed countries in the world with an average GDP per capita of $637. They produce cotton cheaper than anywhere else on the planet, but despite this competitive advantage still don't see the benefits of fair free trade because of other countries subsidising their own products.

But Fairtrade is helping. By buying clothes that have the Fairtrade mark you know that your cotton pays real workers a living wage and helps them plan for now, next year and even further ahead.

Fairtrade clothes have hit the high-street bit by bit in recent years and you can now find Fairtrade clothing in most major supermarkets too. If you can't find any, ask the shop assistants and find out why not! There are lots of other outlets and online shops too, herehere, here, here and here. While Fairtrade is definitely more expensive than Primark there's a good reason-you're actually paying people enough to keep working and providing for their whole families and improve their lives rather than the lowest price the shops can pay.

Want to find out more about Fairtrade clothes and cotton? Have a look at this brilliant blog I discovered today during my researching. One day maybe wearing clothes that have been fairly traded won't be unusual at all.

And my product of the day? A surprise buy, after learning all about Fairtrade cola the other day I stumbled upon it in the Preston Students Union shop, the first time I've paid less than a pound (61p) for a can of coke in years. And I might never have noticed it if it hadn't been for Fairtrade Fortnight!

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