80% of the UK population recognise the Fairtrade mark on our products, but does that mean we even know what it does?
This is especially a dilemma when you’re having to decide between Fairtrade coffee and a £1 cheaper, uncertified alternative. Does it even matter? What difference does Fairtrade make anyway?
What even is Fairtrade?
Fairtrade Foundation is an independent, non-profit organisation that certifies products with the Fairtrade mark. The standards cover issues such as child labour, freedom from discrimination, stable contracts and sustainable energy consumption.
Fairtrade certified companies like us pay fair wages across the supply chain, from farmers to the people who pack our garments in the factory. The minimum price is set by Fairtrade in partnership with farmers and workers. This price can never be lower than the market price. On top of that, Fairtrade companies pay a ‘Premium.’ The premium is essentially additional money that the farmers and workers then decide which community projects to use it for, such as schools and health services.
The current way trade works means that it is always the farmers and workers that lose out and are the first to be exploited. Fairtrade is challenging that! Having an organisation shifting market power back in to hands of workers is something Know The Origin can definitely get excited by. Even 50% of Fairtrade International is owned by the farmers and workers that it works for!
Fairtrade addresses the injustices of conventional trade, which too often leaves the poorest, weakest producers earning less than it costs them to grow their crops. It's a bit like a national minimum wage for global trade. Not perfect, not a magic wand, not a panacea for all the problems of poverty, but a step in the right direction
Harriet Lamb, Fairtrade Foundation
Fairtrade isn’t perfect, but it’s definitely worth supporting. On the ground, farmers and workers are getting support and recognition, and globally there is a movement towards valuing sustainability and fair treatment above profit.
Cotton only became a certifiable Fairtrade product in 2005, so there is still a long way to go for the fashion industry! After meeting all of the wonderful people involved in making Know The Origin possible, we really believe that everyone deserves to be valued for the work they do.
Your shopping choices are what make the difference and can change an industry.
Recognising your money as the power to vote for sustainability and a world working towards workers rights makes shopping for Fairtrade a whole lot more exciting.