Fairtrade producers get a guaranteed price for their produce. This price never falls below the amount it costs to grow the cotton in the first place. This means they can avoid hunger, improve their families’ lives, and save money to start growing other crops too.
The FAIRTRADE Mark ensures rights for producers. Workers on cotton plantations can now defend their rights and join a union, and small farmers can form much bigger groups of producers (‘co-operatives’). There is no forced or child labour and there are no dangerous chemicals due to health and safety standards.
The FAIRTRADE Mark guarantees that an extra set sum of money is paid to producers. This can be invested in improving their business or in community projects like hospitals, schools and roads, extending the benefit beyond just the farmers. Producer co-operatives get together and help to decide what the money is spent on.
The environmental standards set by the international Fairtrade Labelling Organisation aim to help producers work towards more sustainable farming practices. These standards include minimising the use of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides and, where practical, working towards organic production.
Fairtrade allows us to know how and where the things we buy were made. Martin Luther King said: ‘Before you’ve finished your breakfast this morning, you’ll have relied on half the world.’
What’s the problem?
Trade is a matter of life and death for many of the world’s poorest people.
At the moment, international trading rules are unfair. They often often lead to poverty and exploitation for people in developing countries. Trade rules need to be rewritten so that they work in favour of poor countries.
This is the long-term goal of the Trade Justice Movement, which both People & Planet and the Fairtrade Foundation are a part of. But until this happens, the Fairtrade system can guarantee - for some producers and workers at least - that they are not exploited and oppressed by the inadequacies of the current trading system.
How can Fairtrade be part of the solution?
Buying and promoting Fairtrade demonstrates solidarity with a wider global movement towards workers’ rights.
Fairtrade isn’t about charity. It is about rethinking the relationship between producers and consumers. Fairtrade makes sure that this relationship is based on honesty and respect. It is an assertion of the rights of all to decent living and working standards.
Choosing to buy Fairtrade products as an individual is an important way to ensure that the people who have made those products are being treated fairly. What will make even more of a difference is encouraging others to buy Fairtrade by raising awareness of the difference Fairtrade can make.
By taking action on Fairtrade, you are securing rights for some of the most marginalised producers in the world: helping ensure that they get a fair deal and a living wage and are able to work towards the sustainable development of their communities.
Why should schools go Fairtrade?
Students campaigning on Fairtrade are making a real impact on the lives of thousands of workers worldwide.
People & Planet is supporting students to help make Britain’s education sector Fairtrade. The campaign for Fairtrade is an important part of wider trade justice campaigning that seeks to tackle global inequality at its roots.
Imagine… all of the schools, colleges and universities in the country showing that they were serious about putting an end to poverty by committing to Fairtrade. Not only would this make a massive difference to Fairtrade farmers and their communities, it would also show the UK government that UK citizens think it is time to put an end to unfair world trade.
Students are calling for their schools and colleges to Wear Fair by sourcing Fairtrade cotton. Will you join us?