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Winners of the South West Fairtrade Business Awards 2018 revealed!

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Winners of the South West Fairtrade Business Awards 2018 were announced last week in a ceremony held at New Bristol Brewery in St. Paul’s.

Credit: Caro Hutchings

Cotton Smiles, a Bristol-based retailer, won the title of Best Fairtrade Business. Run by wife and husband team Vineeta Gupta and Jim Hayman, Cotton Smiles sells products made from 100% Fairtrade certified cotton, guaranteeing their partner farmers and factory workers in India higher wages and better working conditions. Other organisations scooping best in their category included Palestine Museum & Cultural Centre, Full of Beans, Create Centre, KoolSkools, Lyons Davidson, The Good Wardrobe and University of Bath, who beat off competition from their neighbours at Bath Spa to take Best Fairtrade University. Each winning organisation received a personalised Bristol Blue Glass trophy, unique to the Awards.

For the first time in the Awards’ history, applications were open for Best South West Fairtrade Product sponsored by Triodos, recognising the wide array of products made in the South West using Fairtrade certified ingredients and materials. The Natural Beverage Co. took the award for their Ubuntu Cola – the UK’s first Fairtrade certified cola.

In all, fifty applicants were recognised at the ceremony for their outstanding support of Fairtrade: through sale and purchase of Fairtrade products, communication of Fairtrade values to their staff and customers and support of Fairtrade in their organisation’s management and policies.

Now in their sixth year, the South West Fairtrade Business Awards continue to attract ethically-focussed organisations from across the region, coming together to celebrate each year at the end of Fairtrade Fortnight – a national campaign lead by the Fairtrade Foundation. Delegates to the ceremony were addressed by Urania Liseth Hernández, a female Fairtrade producer from Nicaragua, who discussed how women in her cooperative have been empowered by Fairtrade programmes.

As well as Fairtrade coffee, wine, cakes and a buffet made from Fairtrade and organic ingredients, guests were asked to ‘watch their waste’ by bringing their own reusable coffee cups and lunch boxes in which to take any surplus food away with them. Fairtrade certification has strict environmental standards, and 52%1 of Fairtrade producers are also certified organic.

Vineeta Gupta, co-owner of Cotton Smiles, commenting on their win said:

“Jim and I are just thrilled to have won Best South West Fairtrade Business, and proud to have brought Fairtrade cotton to Bristol. By visiting farms and factories in India we have seen how ethical, sustainable business brings real and enduring benefits for the health, financial security, quality of life and education of disadvantaged and often exploited communities. Our cotton comes from India and our relationship with our colleagues there is what drives our business. Fairtrade certification helps us demonstrate the integrity of that relationship to our customers. With this award, we’re proud to be recognised for our commitment to Fairtrade and hope that others will be inspired to build their business around ethical supply chains.”

The Fairtrade logo is one of the most widely recognised consumer labels on the UK market, with a recognition rate of 93%2. Individuals and businesses purchasing Fairtrade certified products are helping to contribute to a supply chain that benefits more than 1.65 million farmers and workers worldwide3, guaranteeing higher economic, social and environmental standards, as well as minimum prices and a Fairtrade premium to spend on community or business development.

How Green is Fairtrade?

Fairtrade guarantees a fair and living wage for small scale farmers in developing countries, as well as a social premium to benefit the wider community, to be spent on healthcare, education, clean water and more. Fairtrade standards also guarantee environmental protection of local ecosystems and rainforests, as well as strict controls on waste, carbon emissions and water use. Fairtrade is an excellent anti-poverty tool as well as supporting sustainable farming methods across the globe.

Bristol Green Capital Partnership has always been strongly supportive of Fairtrade, and worked with Bristol Fairtrade Network in 2015 when Bristol hosted the 9th International Fairtrade Towns Conference – which launched a new film that asks ‘How Green is Fairtrade?’

For more information on Fairtrade, and Fairtrade Fortnight, visit: http://fairtrade.org.uk/

For more information, contact Danni Rochman, Bristol Fairtrade Coordinator on coordinator@bristolfairtade.org.uk, 07881 825 047

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