Fancy a tea or a coffee? How about a sumptuous meal with a fresh banana dessert smothered in smooth chocolate, a bottle of the finest wine, a bunch of red roses and a gold ring to boot?
No, we’re not talking about Valentine’s Day, we’re getting all excited and hot under the collar about Fairtrade Fortnight – the annual celebration of sustainable and fair world commerce we can all join in with whilst making a difference to the planet as well.
This year, Fairtrade Fortnight runs from 21st February to 6 March. Thousands of people, nurseries, schools, companies, institutions and local groups of all sizes and interests will come together to share their stories about where our food and drink come from, the people who grow the cotton in our clothes, and how we can mine gold more sustainably. Many of the people we rely on to produce the goods we want in our lives, are often exploited and underpaid. Fairtrade Fortnight aims to raise awareness of the issues of inequality in global production and get us, the consumers, to make choices that can affect change.
What is Fairtrade?
Fairtrade is “a system of certification that aims to ensure a set of standards are met in the production and supply of a product or ingredient. For farmers and workers, Fairtrade means workers’ rights, safer working conditions and fairer pay. For shoppers, it means high quality, ethically produced products.”
When you think about it, wouldn’t we like everything we buy to be traded in a fair and equitable manner? None of us want to think that the tea we drink or the clothes we wear have been produced at the expense or exploitation of another human being, let alone consider that they have been mass-produced by children in sweat shops or by enforced labour. Yet this is the reality of some products and ingredients available to us.
When we as consumers, choose Fairtrade products, we can be sure that the farmers have been treated with fairness and equality, are investing in climate-friendly farming techniques and are developing leadership roles for women. As it says on the Fairtrade website: “With Fairtrade, you change the world a little bit every day. Through simple shopping choices, you are showing businesses and governments that you believe in fair and just trade.”
Some facts about Fairtrade – did you know?
- There are over 1,880 Fairtrade certified producer organisations in 71 countries
- There are more than 1.9 million farmers and workers in Fairtrade certified producer organisations
- 17% of farmers and 41% of workers in Fairtrade are women
- In 2020, £169 million was paid to farmers and workers in Fairtrade premium, with each producer organisation receiving more than £90,000 on average
- 47% of all Fairtrade farmers produce coffee and 41% of all Fairtrade workers produce flowers
- Workers on large-scale Fairtrade certified farms invested 20% of their Fairtrade premium in education for the workers and their families
What products does the Fairtrade certification cover?
If you want to change your shopping habits and switch to Fairtrade, you will not have to exist on a diet of rice and beans! There are over 6,000 Fairtrade products which can be easily identified by the distinctive black, blue and green Fairtrade logo. Some of the most popular products include:
- Bananas – one third of bananas bought in the UK are Fairtrade and it makes a huge difference to thousands of farmers, workers and their families
- Chocolate – Fairtrade in this industry means fairer prices and safer working conditions for farmers and workers
- Coffee – Fairtrade investment results in a better quality of life for coffee farmers, and better-quality beans
- Clothing – sustainable fashion that does not exploit its workers is making headlines and Fairtrade supports cotton farmers in some of the world’s poorest countries and worker’s rights and conditions within the textile industries
- Flowers – beauty without exploitation
- Gold – Fairtrade describes its independent ethical certification of gold as “more than just gold – it’s gold with heart”
- Tea – fighting against discrimination and low wages
These are just some of the products you can find, but think too about sugar, wines, beauty products, spreads, oils, herbs and spices as well as everyday fruit and vegetables too.
How to get involved in Fairtrade Fortnight in your setting
There are lots of ways to involve your setting in Fairtrade Fortnight. Children are future consumers, so educating them to understand the ideas and values behind Fairtrade, even at an early age will help them make sustainable and ethical choices in future years. So here are some ideas to get you started:
- Set up a Fairtrade display – you can print out images of products, collect empty boxes or use actual items to help the children understand where their food comes from. You could put up a wall map and stick images of different countries showing where the products come from, perhaps focusing on a different product each day for the 2 weeks
- Cook up some easy recipes using Fairtrade ingredients – the children will love making chocolate brownies or honey and lavender cupcakes. You can find links to recipe pages at the end of this article
- Research and tell the stories of how our food is produced and the people who produce it – the Fairtrade website has resources for early years settings and schools using Pablo – The Super Banana to engage younger children. You can also find books such as “Fair Trade First”, a new book for early years, written by Sarah Ridley, and there are plenty of resources on Twinkl for the EYFS
- Hold a bake sale to raise money – every penny raised can help farmers improve their lives and have hope for a better future. You could collect products to raffle in a Fairtrade Fortnight hamper, or donate it to your local food bank
- Dress up as a banana – yes, the banana is almost synonymous with Fairtrade, so why not have some fun and see how many ‘little bananas’ you can count in your setting!
We all want to live in a way that is sustainable, better for the planet and equitable for everyone living on it. We can’t always have a direct impact on governments or poverty in third world countries. However, it doesn’t take much to change to Fairtrade items, but it makes the world of difference to the producers and the planet.