"To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity" - Nelson Mandela
Fair trade is just as the words sound. Farmers and workers around the world receive a fair price for the trade of their goods. In the words of Marianne Williamson, "There is no they, only us. We are part of a large fellowship called the human race. We all hurt the same. We all love the same. We all bleed the same. We all need understanding and care. We can't separate ourselves from one another. We are all part of the same vast sea of love, one indivisible divine mind."
The truth of the matter is half of the world — nearly three billion people — live on less than two dollars a day a number that does not even equate to a fair living wage. We all deserve a living wage - one that enables workers and their dependants to meet their needs for nutritious food, clean water, shelter, clothes, access to education, access to health care and transport. And in a globalised world where factories are churning out cheap fast fashion, children are exploited in the supply chain. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) there are around 260 million children in employment around the world. A truly staggering number and of them, the ILO estimates that 170 million are engaged in child labour, defined by the United Nations as “work for which the child is either too young – work done below the required minimum age – or work which, because of its detrimental nature or conditions, is altogether considered unacceptable for children and is prohibited”. This needs to stop and we as consumers have a powerful voice in creating this change through knowledge, awareness and choice.
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The concept of fair trade is global with many companies across different product categories working hard to ensure that farmers and workers are given the basic fundamental human rights by being treated honestly and fairly whilst also promoting sustainable environmental practices. In addition to fair prices and payment, strict fair trade certification ensures absolutely NO child labour, good working conditions, no discrimination, no forced labor and no bonded labour. There is a transparency from seed to shelf and accountability at every stage to ensure there is positive impact on humanity with no room for anything but the strictest social justice practices being upheld.
A Fairtrade certified product is created based on a partnership, which honours trade as an inter-dependent relationship. Producers receive a fair wage for what they provide, but also a voice in how they manage their resources. This honours our shared right as human beings, to have a say in how we choose to live each day, how we choose to love respect and uphold each other as fellow human beings, and how we choose to care for the planet we all call home.
The beautiful black, blue and green circular logo of a farmer in a field now graces over 3,000 Fairtrade certified products in Australia, including coffee, sugar, flour, tea, ice-cream, chocolate and cotton and the list continues to grow. Buying fair trade means you are setting up a sustainable future. You are empowering a future generation to continue to produce food and textiles, while protecting and nurturing the environment to meet ever growing demands. It is a personal choice, and a shared societal value.
Fairtrade Australia New Zealand is about upholding justice on an international level. Fairtrade works closely with growers and producers, to ensure stability in wages, decency in working conditions, and empowerment through choice and ownership.
Fairtrade Australia New Zealand's top 10 reasons for choosing to support Fairtrade are:
- Fairtrade provides a fair price to farmers who grow the things we love, covering the cost of sustainable production and an additional sum of money to invest in community or business projects.
- Fairtrade is good for the environment - Fairtrade supports sustainable farming practices which helps to minimise our environmental footprint. Many Fairtrade farmers are also organic.
- Fairtrade is safe - Fairtrade has standards that protect workers rights and promote good health and safety practices. Fairtrade has a list of harmful chemicals that are banned from production.
- Fairtrade supports communities. By working through cooperative structures, Fairtrade farmers and workers are able to invest Fairtrade earnings in their communities, improving housing, healthcare, and schools.
- Market access and fairer trade - Fairtrade is about doing trade differently. It empowers farmers and workers to take control of their lives, businesses and communities through trade. Fairtrade also enables businesses – and through them, consumers – to understand the whole supply chain because it is tracked from producer to buyer.
- Fairtrade promotes gender equality - Fairtrade believes the role of women in agriculture needs more visibility, recognition and value, and that gender equity is important to social sustainability. Currently, 350,000 women farmers and workers are part of Fairtrade, a quarter of the total.
- Fairtrade is about quality and productivity - Supporting farmers to improve the amount of crop they produce and its quality are important for sustainable livelihoods. It means farmers can earn more from what they produce to become more economically stable and more reliable suppliers.
- Fairtrade means what you buy matters - By choosing Fairtrade products, you are not only accessing high quality products, you are making a difference in the lives of the people who grow the food you eat and the goods you use.
- Fairtrade sets standards - Fairtrade Standards social, economic and environmental standards that are set for both companies and the farmers and workers who grow the food we love. For farmers and workers the standards include protection of workers’ rights and the environment, for companies they include the payment of the Fairtrade Minimum Price and an additional Fairtrade Premium to invest in business or community projects of the community’s choice.
- Fairtrade supports farmers to implement climate change adaptation measures. The Fairtrade Standards promote sustainable development through best agricultural practices, which not only guide producers to adapt to climate change, but also encourage them to mitigate their impact.
Whatever goods you may be purchasing, look for this symbol that links Earth to humankind in a shape of harmony and unity. By choosing Fairtrade, we are making choosing to build a future that values justice for its people; a world where communities can look after one another, and our shared planet Earth.
Bhumi Organic Cotton is dedicated to the principles of Fairtrade and bearing this iconic symbol proudly. We believe there is integrity in creating, and integrity in receiving. If either diminishes, the other will also suffer.
“There is no beauty in the finest cloth if it makes hunger and unhappiness.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
About the Author: Vinita is the Founder of Bhumi Organic Cotton and passionate about Earth Life Balance.