For many of us today, Fairtrade is now a common term. An increasing number of businesses, both nationally and internationally, claim to be ‘Fairtrade companies’ or ‘Fairtrade certified’. But what exactly is Fairtrade? What does being Fairtrade certified mean and more importantly, why is it so important? This week we decided to delve deeper into the world of Fairtrade and the reason why we need fairer, more transparent business practices on a global scale.
So, first of all what is Fairtrade? According to FINE principles: “Fair Trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers – especially in the South.” Simply put, it’s all about better prices, decent working conditions and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers. The majority of poorly paid farmers produce commodities like coffee, cotton, olive oil, fruits and hemp, so guaranteed minimum prices are extremely important to these producers.
Fairtrade requires compliance with domestic and international labour laws, which include the prohibition of child and forced labour, as well as child trafficking. Fairtrade food and drinks are also certified by independent, third party labeling organizations. If all of those reasons aren’t enough, check out this info graph detailing the endless amount of positive impacts Fairtrade makes.
This is important because the vast majority of farmers affected by unfair pricing for produce, typically reside in conflict zones and are often some of the poorest in the world. Many are frequently exploited and essentially stolen from, which keeps such zones unsafe and dangerous for living in. Fairtrade can help farmers rebuild their lives, despite war and outbreaks of violence. When commercial buyers pay fair premiums these farmers no longer live in extreme poverty. Instead, they earn sufficiently to provide and protect their families, as well strengthen their overall communities through finances, adequate nutrition and education.
The first attempt at the creation of a Fairtrade movement began in the USA in the 1940’s and 50’s, when various religious and political NGO groups initiated the commercialization of Fairtrade goods. Ten Thousand Villages began to develop Fairtrade supply chains in 1946, followed by SERRV International in 1949. Most products were sold at fairs or in churches. The current Fairtrade movement emerged out of Europe in the 1960’s however, a notable contributor being Oxfam UK who started to sell crafts made by Chinese refugees in Oxfam shops in the late 50’s and early 60’s. The movement gained international recognition in 1968, when the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development or UNCTAD, adopted the slogan "Trade not Aid". This put emphasis on the establishment of Fairtrade practices with the poorer, developing nations of the world.
Today, Fairtrade is a growing movement. Numerous businesses now recognise the importance of greater transparency in terms of their product sourcing, reflecting the increasing awareness among consumers about where their produce is coming from. A growing number of customers for many companies now demand a more ethical approach to the treatment of workers and farmers who traditionally would have been marginalised by large corporations.
Here at the Ethical Silk Company, we pride ourselves on being a part of this movement - being ethical is something we really take into consideration every step of the way, from sourcing our materials to manufacturing. We’re delighted to be in partnership with Eternal Creation, whose tailoring unit creates the beautiful mulberry silk products our customers enjoy. This company is 100% Fairtrade certified and do a fabulous job of supporting its workers, providing them with a good wage and ultimately treating them fairly.
So, you can sleep easy in the fact that your Ethical Silk Company purchase supports poorer farmers and their families, providing them with a more sustainable and prosperous future. Couple that with one of our fabulous pillowcases, and you’ve a perfect night’s sleep ahead of you! Don’t forget you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for more updates on everything #EthicalSilkCo.