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CONTENTS VOL 169 NO 9 3 Fairtrade fortnight 4 Christchurch Meeting damaged 5 On taking a side Sharen Green 6-7 Letters 8-9 Fairtrade: ethics and choice Raymond Mgadzah 10-12 Living fairly Interview: Bruce Crowther 13 The case for Sunday shopping Joy Paul 14 Simplicity made easy Trish Carn 16 Q-eye 17 Friends & Meetings
Cover image: Coffee beans. Coffee was one of the first product to be sold as Fairtrade. See pages 3 and 8-13. Photo: Theogeo/flickr CC.
Images on this page: Photos of the Christchurch Meeting House in New Zealand after the earthquake last week. Photos: © Adam Coole, resident Friend at Christchurch Meeting. See page 4.
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FAIRTRADE FORTNIGHT is underway, with events from sales promotions to fashion shows taking place across the country. It will run from 28 February to 13 March.
Sales of Fairtrade goods have increased by forty per cent in the last year, reaching an estimated retail value of £1.7bn. The Fairtrade Foundation insisted that, despite the economic downturn, British shoppers are ‘showing no downturn on ethical values’.
The Foundation is responsible for awarding Fairtrade status to products considered to give a ‘fair deal’ to producers in the global south. To receive the Fairtrade Mark for one of its products, a company must pay a minimum price and a ‘Fairtrade premium’ that allows investments in local communities.
A spokesperson for the Foundation told the Friend that there would be ‘thousands of events, everywhere from shops to the workplace, to schools to town centres, to get more people excited about the difference their everyday shopping could make’. Worthing Friends’ Meeting will hold a Fairtrade Day on Sunday 13 March, with a bring-and-share lunch, Fairtrade stall and fashion show with Fairtrade clothes.
The fashion industry is a particular target this year, with cotton being one of the few Fairtrade products to have seen a decline in sales. The Foundation say that ‘ethical ranges struggle to compete with a continuing trend for cheap, fast fashion’. They are lobbying the
European Commission on global cotton subsidies, which they believe restrict market opportunities for cotton farmers in Mali, Senegal and Cameroon.
Traidcraft, one of the organisations which founded the Fairtrade Foundation, now wants to see the Fairtrade Mark made available to a larger range of goods. The British Association of Fair Trade Shops (BAFTS) sets its own criteria for products not covered by the Fairtrade Foundation, such as crafts and jewellery.
BAFTS recognises organisations and companies as having ethical status rather than individual goods. In contrast, the Foundation tests only the ethics of a particular product, without questioning the nature of the company involved.
On the eve of Fairtrade Fortnight, Dan Welch, co-editor of the Ethical Consumer magazine, said he would rather buy non-Fairtrade coffee than shop at Starbucks, even though all the company’s coffee is Fairtrade.
He acknowledged that ‘Fairtrade is the gold standard’. But he said the magazine had uncovered a range of unethical behaviour by Starbucks, including ‘union-busting’, lobbying against trademark protection for Ethiopian coffee-producers and requiring staff to share tips with their bosses.
Fair Trade Way launched
QUAKERS IN THE NORTH-WEST of England are at the centre of a plan to launch the ‘Fair Trade Way’ as a long-distance footpath this week. The eighty-five mile route begins at Garstang, which became the UK’s first Fairtrade town in 2000, and finishes at Keswick.
The overnight stays on the six-day hike will all be in Fairtrade towns. A website for the Fair Trade Way will list cafes, restaurants and accommodation that serve Fairtrade goods.
Bruce Crowther of Garstang Meeting, one of the organisers, told the Friend that the walk will combine four themes: fair trade, slavery, Quakerism and chocolate. Much of the route will pass through the ‘1652 country’ in which Quakerism initially developed. The walk also includes Lancaster, now a Fairtrade town but once the fourth largest slave trade port in Britain.
‘The themes all link to each other and, in fact, have a resonance with social and cultural history that goes back two hundred years,’ said Bruce. Drawing links between campaigns for fair trade and the anti-slavery movement, he explained: ‘It is a question of challenging accepted practices’.
The ‘Team’ for the first Fair Trade Way walk in October 2009.
the Friend, 4 March 2011