Fairtrade Fortnight – Why is it Important?
We will all have seen Fairtrade items whilst doing our grocery shopping. Some of us may overlook the Fairtrade license mark sticker on products and some of us may be seeking it out, but what does Fairtrade actually mean and why is it so important?
Fairtrade is a simple way to ensure that the people who grow the things we love are protected and get treated and paid fairly. It does this by setting social, economic and environmental standards for both companies and the farmers and workers. These standards are constantly monitored and must be met in order for items to carry the Fairtrade mark. This mark acts as reassurance to customers that they are buying an item that has been farmed fairly, with people and the environment in mind.
For two weeks each year at the end of February and start of March, thousands of people and companies come together to share the stories of those who grow our food and drinks, grow and harvest the cotton that makes our clothes, and mine our gold. These people are often the most vulnerable and can be exploited or underpaid which is why encouraging companies to adhere to Fairtrade standards is so important.
Between 22nd February and 7th March this year, the Fairtrade Foundation aims to highlight the growing challenges of climate change on farmers and workers within the communities they support. The theme is ‘Choose the world you want’ and the focus is on countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia and Honduras where farmers and workers have done the least to contribute to climate change.
Also during this time Fairtrade encourages those who can to fundraise or make a donation so that they can change the lives of people living in the poorest communities in the world. They use this money to fund training programmes, business development, and projects like their Women’s School of Leadership, equipping the most vulnerable farmers and workers with the skills and education they need to prosper.
Their stories are the ones that need to be heard the most because they are the ones who are experiencing the impact of drought, crop disease, floods and shrinking harvests. Add the Coronavirus pandemic on top of that and these farmers are facing even bigger challenges than ever before.
Ultimately, poverty in farming makes tackling climate change extremely hard. Fairtrade helps to raise the voices of the farmers and workers to prioritise what they need to respond to the environmental issues they are facing. To do this, they need our help.
What can we do to help during Fairtrade Fortnight?
As well as looking out for the Fairtrade mark and shopping more mindfully, we need to spread the important Fairtrade message. A free, virtual Fairtrade festival is being held this year due to us not being able to come together in person. The festival will feature the stories of the farmers and workers from around the world who are struggling to tackle climate change due to poverty; music, art and entertainment from the global Fairtrade community; discussion groups and interactive workshops.
The workshops, in particular, are a fun way to learn about living sustainably right here in the UK and there are online resources available so you can host your own online event to talk all things Fairtrade. This could be anything from a quiz to a Fairtrade cook-along, but it’s a great way to raise awareness as well as vital funds. All you have to do is sign up, take part, learn and share your learnings with others. We have the ability to help farmers to get a fair trade for their crops and hard work by working together to drive long term change.