Back when the idea for The Ethical Silk Company was a mere tingle in my tummy, I had to determine how I wanted the business to develop and what I wanted to achieve. Of course, the primary aim was to grow a profitable business but I wanted this to be done in a certain way - a transparent chain of production of beautiful products that are created in a fair and ethical way. This led me to find the particular animal-friendly mulberry silk our products are made from and it also brought me to the two Fair trade tailoring units in India where our products are made, Himalayan Tailoring Centre in Dharamshala, and Mehera Shaw in Jaipur
Most people have a good idea of what Fairtrade is and see the logo on various coffee, chocolate and bananas in their local supermarket, but as it is World Fair Trade Day this Saturday, I thought I’d give a bit of background to what #Fairtrade actually means. The movement began in the years after World War II, further developing in the Sixties. It’s main aim, to promote an economic system based on justice – fair prices, better working conditions, transparent trade relations – provides a socially and environmentally sustainable economic model. It’s not just charity.
The World Fair Trade Day, started in 2001, is an initiative of WFTO that falls on the second Saturday of May of each year. It celebrates Fair Trade as ‘a tangible contribution to the fight against poverty and exploitation, climate change and the economic crises that has the greatest impact on the world’s most vulnerable populations. Trade must benefit the most vulnerable and deliver sustainable livelihoods by developing opportunities for small and disadvantaged producers.’ (www.wfto.com)
Buying Fair Trade products supports a system of respect - respect for the people involved in the production of the goods, and respect for the environment. Naturally we are all going to check the price tag before purchasing an item but usually when a price seems to good to be true, someone along the production line is paying the price and is being exploited, be it the farmer that grows the cotton or the tailor that makes the garment.
The encouraging results from an experiment by Jens Hainmueller shows that when people (Americans in this case) say they prefer to buy Fair Trade, they actually will fork out more of their hard earned cash and purchase the Fair Trade product. “There’s a lot of difference between cheap talk and real money,” Hainmueller says. “This research shows people are willing to pay for the label.” Very reassuring indeed.
Fair Trade products demonstrate that it is possible to produce, consume and save, while respecting social and environmental criteria, distributing profits throughout the production supply chain, taking care of small producers, their lands and their communities (www.wfto.com).
Support Fair Trade, especially this Saturday. Buy a Fair Trade banana, a Fair Trade coffee or some Fair Trade chocolate and remember the good that’s coming from that purchase justifies you eating more of that Fair Trade chocolate. It’d be rude not to.