Fairtrade products are becoming more and more visible on shop shelves. In 2014, £1.67B was spent on Fairtrade products. The Fairtrade system currently works with over 1.65M farmers and workers with 26% of them being women. In the UK alone, over £23M worth of Fairtrade Premium was generated in sales. Fairtrade products are now sold in more than 120 countries with the Fairtrade mark being the most widely-recognised ethical label globally.
So here are 10 reasons to support Fairtrade, along with some of the benefits to the farmers, workers, yourself and the environment.
1. Farmers get paid equally for their work
Under Fairtrade rules, all farmers get paid so that they can still maintain the cost of living, as well as the cost of production and maintenance of their crops. For items such as coffee, cocoa, cotton and rice, the Fairtrade certification is only given to the smaller farmer. Thus, enabling them to have some financial stability and potentially, a better quality of life.
2. You are also helping to support local projects
A small percentage of earnings from Fairtrade sales is also given to farmers to invest in local community projects – known as Fairtrade Premium. This not only benefits the farmers themselves, but also the community; as farmers choose how they wish to use this additional sum of money. Whether it be on schooling, housing, improving their business or improvements within the community. £25 million was given from sales of Fairtrade produce, to farmers as Fairtrade Premium in 2014.
3. Fairtrade is better for the environment
Fairtrade rules mean farmers, except for cotton farmers, have to be environmentally friendly. In 2017, Fairtrade International is introducing new specifications, which mean traders need to be economical with their energy and water use, as well as their biodiversity, water wastage and emissions to air. They could reduce their water wastage by using rainwater to feed their crops and choose to export their goods in the most environmentally friendly method. Under the new guidelines, packaging must also be as recyclable and biodegradable as it can be.
4. Workers are treated equally
Fairtrade guidelines also state that all workers within farms and businesses should be treated equally. They should all be paid a fair amount, only work their contracted hours, working conditions should be fair and there should be no discrimination. Fairtrade guidelines mean workers should not be forced into labour.
5. You are not eating GMOs
Fairtrade products boast the quality of being GMO free. They don’t contain any Genetically Modified Organisms therefore are better for your health. Fairtrade farmers and producers have to ensure their equipment for harvesting, transport for carrying the crops, and handling methods within the farm are clear of GMOs.
6. Pesticides used are minimised
Similarly to GMOs, the control and monitoring of pesticides is important in Fairtrade. Farmers and producers should try to minimise the use of pesticides on Fairtrade produce. If they must use them, pesticides with less toxicity are recommended and the Fairtrade Organisation provide their own list of suggested pesticides for farmers to use. Fairtrade International, also provide further guidelines on pesticide usage including that all workers should be trained – IPM (Integrated Pest Management) – on how to use pesticides and the effects and dangers if anything does go wrong. This ensures that Fairtrade items are as ‘clean’ as they can be for consumption.
7. Ensure the best type of soil is used
Quality of soil is another important factor for Fairtrade farmers. Ensuring the soil they are planting on is not at risk of erosion so they don’t lose and waste crops, as well as planting trees to increase their ground cover and become even more environmentally friendly. To prevent erosion, rotating crops is important so, planting different crops in different areas. This keeps the soil as moist as possible and ensures the best quality of end produce.
8. Higher quality of produce
Increasing fertility, biodiversity and wildlife are central to Fairtrade and ensure the end produce is of the best and natural quality. Decreasing weeds and pests, allows crops to grow as unharmed as possible. Considering climatic conditions such as how much sun and shade crops will get and whether fields will easily flood are also a part of Fairtrade guidelines. Fairtrade produce is encouraged to grow as naturally as they can with wildlife in order to create the highest quality of produce.
9. Waste from farming is controlled
As much of the waste as possible, which is produced by farming, is recycled or reused therefore doesn’t harm the environment. Composting and reusing waste for other purposes is encouraged, thus being environmentally friendly. Harmful or hazardous waste should be disposed off appropriately under Fairtrade guidance. Thus, making sure crops aren’t contaminated with harmful substances.
10. Easy for you to buy
All Fairtrade items should be clearly labeled with the logo. Fairtrade food, clothes, skincare and cosmetics are easily purchasable from shops. The use of them is increasing in popularity resulting in the increasing popularity of Fairtrade farming and production.
Fairtrade not only benefits us, the consumer, but the farmers as well, because of its environmentally friendly production methods, and the avoidance of harmful substances. The farmers receive something in return to ensure they have enough to live a better quality of life.
At Bee Green Communications we support Fairtrade practices, meaning we also support and promote brands that follow fairtrade practices.