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“Buying Fairtrade really is part of a sustainable shopping basket”

Traditionally parchment coffee is dried in the sun at DESMACH in Mexico. Photo Courtesy of Cafe Direct

Traditionally parchment coffee is dried in the sun at DESMACH in Mexico.
Photo Courtesy of Cafe Direct

This year Bristol will host the 9th International Fair Trade Towns Conference. Jenny Foster, Bristol and South West Fairtrade Co-ordinator at Bristol Fairtrade Network, explains why Fair Trade should go hand in hand with sustainability and resilience:

“Most of you know that buying products with the Fairtrade Mark guarantees a fair price for small farmers and a social premium to invest in their business and in community projects such as schools, fresh water and health care. How many of you know that Fairtrade also has strict environmental standards that all Producer groups have to meet to gain Fairtrade accreditation? Not so many I should think! Fairtrade has 12 environmental standards covering :

Environmental monitoring and training; Protecting biodiversity, soil and rainforests; Waste, recycling and pesticides; Lowering carbon emissions and switching to renewable energy

We also know that climate change is affecting the poorest areas of the world the most – those people who have done the least to cause the problem. We hear from our farmers about changes in rainfall patterns, more drought and, conversely, more flooding, as well as an increase in crop diseases. So Fairtrade is helping farmers to adapt to climate change – by developing crop varieties, improving irrigation methods, diversifying, and investing in solar technologies. There is also training and help to assist farmers to switch to organic farming to increase their income and improve health – 56% of Fairtrade products are now certified Organic too.

Of course we all want to support local farmers, and are concerned about the carbon footprint of our food. Most Fairtrade goods cannot be grown in the EU, and are shipped not flown. Many Fairtrade products have a lower carbon footprint than those driven around UK or produced in hothouses in the EU. So, buying Local and buying Fairtrade are complementary.

Fairtrade also supports smallholder farming which, as George Monbiot says, is crucial to feed our growing world population: The structure of the global food market is changing so rapidly that fair trade is now becoming one of the few means by which small farmers in poor nations might survive. A shift from small to large farms will cause a major decline in global production, just as food supplies become tight. Fair trade might now be necessary not only as a means of redistributing income, but also to feed the world.’ 

Fairtrade is about social AND environmental justice, so buying Fairtrade really is part of a sustainable shopping basket.

2015 is not only the year that Bristol is European Green Capital, but also Bristol 10th Anniversary as a Fairtrade City. Last year we carried out a survey with 440 local people and found that 93% of people recognise the Fairtrade mark (against 78% nationally) and 88% think it’s important that Bristol is a Fairtrade City.

FTT_city_col - BRISTOLSo this year is a real chance to celebrate, and we are proud to be a partner organisation of Bristol 2015 as we celebrate 10 Years as a Fairtrade City.  However, we know it’s not time to rest on our laurels. Did you know that Fairtrade certified organisations can often only sell 10% of their product on Fairtrade terms due to the lack of markets? So, despite working hard to meet all the standards, they only receive the Fairtrade price and premium on a small percentage of their goods, the rest they have to sell at whatever price they can get on the fluctuating market. We don’t think this is fair, so are doing all we can to increase sales of Fairtrade by individuals and businesses.

Be part of something amazing – buy Fairtrade!”

Find full details of all the events in our 10th Anniversary year at

George Monbiot visits Bristol on Wednesday 25th February as part of the The Coleridge Lectures 2015


Food, Blog, Fairtrade
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