Today, the suggestion that popped up in my inbox was to do something to support the Fair Trade movement. My default position is to purchase fairly traded tea, coffee and bananas when shopping, and I try to include other products when I can. Sometimes I start to resent the extra cost to the food bill and wonder if it really does make a difference. There are plenty of arguments to be found on the web either way. On the whole though, I am happy to subscribe to the notion that buying goods that are marked up as fairly traded is a positive thing to be doing. The task was a timely reminder for me as I think my standards were beginning to slip – as evidenced by the fact that the last time I bought a bunch of bananas in Tesco, they were not the Fair Trade ones. I resent the fact that Tesco sells so few Fair Trade bananas and they are priced up unnecessarily high and carry additional packaging. Yes I know this falls into the category of middle class angst, but that doesn’t stop me bothering about it.
Thinking about the plight of workers whose lives are changed for the better or for the worse by the purchasing whims of the likes of myself, I am happy to receive the prompt to reconsider how I spend my money with more than a view to whether I am getting the best deal for ME.
Today I purchased 8 Fair Trade chocolate bars and resolved to give them out to “random” people with a message/reminder that we are at the start of Fairtrade fortnight. This task was duly done at a conference venue to unsuspecting punters queuing for tea and coffee which I am happy to say was declared to be fairly and ethically traded. I can not claim to have received any thoughtful or enquiring responses – but rather the suspicious looks that one might expect when handing out freebies on a street corner with a view to trapping the recipient into a financial commitment of some kind. Today’s task felt like an empty and contrived gesture.
On a more positive note though, I made a point of finding out a bit more about a business being supported by a friend. This is an imitative through Trade Right international, that works with communities in Ghana where women harvest shea nuts to produce butter which is then hand crafted into luxury skin products by workers from disadvantaged communities in Scotland. Through having a decent market price for the shea butter, these women are able to avoid selling their own children into slavery and trafficking! The charity was able to pay for a co-operative to be set up and provide training to the women in North East Ghana in order that they can create the marketable shea butter from the nuts that they gather. It is incredible to think that by buying cosmetics from www.carishea.com/ourshop this could actually influence whether a young girl from Ghana stays to grow up as a daughter in her family, or is sold into a lifetime of abuse!
So as well as making sure that I return to my commitment to purchase fair trade bananas regardless of price, I will be making my next purchase of birthday gifts is Carishea. Any other takers?