Fair Trade has been a hugely successful campaign that has proved resilient to the recession, unlike the organic movement. According to the Fairtrade Foundation UK sales of Fairtrade products exceeded £1.3 billion in 2011, a 12% increase on 2010. And these figures only include Fairtrade "agricultural" products certified under the Fairtrade Labelling Organisation (FLO), they don't include figures for gifts and handicrafts that are certified by the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO), like the gifts Fairwind sells.
So why has it been so successful? Well apart from the general change in attitudes in the UK as people become more aware of international issues and the sourcing of products, it must be because fairly traded products are good. No-one buys a product unless they feel a benefit from doing so! And fairly traded products are no more expensive than other good quality products.
Certainly Fair Trade gifts are stunning these days. Not only are they beautifully handmade but they are made for our markets. UK Fair Trade organisations work with producers in the developing world to design products that use traditional skills to make well-designed products that we all want to buy here in the UK.
So what is a fair trade gift?
If you buy a gift from a member of the British Association of Fair Trade Shops (BAFTS) or WFTO then you can be sure of 10 key things, the 10 Principles of Fair Trade:
- Fair Trade creates opportunities for ecomically disadvantaged producers, enabling them to move from income insecurity and poverty to economic self-sufficiency and ownership.
- Management and commercial relationships are transparent, relevant information is provided to all trading partners in open and honest relationships.
- Fair trading practices ensure that profit is not maximised at the expense of marginalised producers. Long term relationships based on solidarity, trust and mutual respect are developed between producers and buyers. Advance interest-free payments are made for all orders, of at least 50%, to ensure that producers are not out of pocket and can meet their obligations.
- A fair price is always paid for products. This means that a mutually agreeable price is set that is socially acceptable in the producer's country and which takes into account equal pay for all workers and supports capacity building and investment by the producer.
- No child labour or forced labour is used to make fair trade products. This doesn't mean that the children of family producers don't help out in the business, but it does ensure they are safe, go to school and are not exploited.
- Producers do not discriminate against existing and prospective employees based on race, caste, national origin, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, union membership, political affiliation, HIV/Aids status or age.
- Good working conditions are provided for all workers. This doesn't just mean a safe and healthy workplace but also ensure working hours and holidays are reasonable.
- Producers are given support, training and advice to help them invest in their businesses and grow.
- Fair Trade retailers and importers are passionate about Fair Trade and will try to raise awareness of Fair Trade and international trade issues wherever they can. Fair Trade is not a marketing gimmick for BAFTS and WFTO members, it is a true belief in the right way to do business.
- Fair Trade organisations respect the environment by using raw materials from sustainably managed sources wherever possible and by minimising energy consumption as much as possible. The impact of waste is minimised through recycling and responsible disposal.
Fair Trade has changed many lives in the developing world and we hope to bring you some heart warming examples over the next few weeks. Women in particular have benefitted from Fair Trade as it opens up equal opportunities for them and gives them independence and confidence. Children get to go to school and have access to healthcare which raises their life expectancy and education levels such that the whole country starts to benefit over time.
The future of developing countries lies in Fair Trade not aid, creating independence and prosperity from grass roots levels, thus bringing change.