In the last few weeks, we’ve talked about buying fair trade items, palm oil’s effects on the environment, and shopping responsibly, on our Facebook. When shopping you may have seen other symbols and logos on popular items before like the ones shown below. ?
These symbols are examples of in-house certifications and programs organized by corporations. They work to appraise their own ethics to their own satisfaction.
Why is this an issue?
An article by Samanth Subramanian, in the The Guardian, highlights why these symbols evoking fair trade qualities do not actually step up to the mark. Fair Trade places the producers and farmers of the products at the centre of decision-making, where-as these company created alternatives are created independently without any third-party verification of their label or conversation with the producers of the products:
“Around the world, the largest agribusiness companies are quitting independent certification, either because they think they can do sustainability better in-house, or because they see an opportunity to craft standards that fit their own purposes.”
When collaborative decision-making is taken away, profit is valued above people and the planet; increasing inequality and reducing empowerment of local farming communities and families.
Why support Fair Trade?
In recent news, Nestlé announced they are choosing to move away from the Fairtrade certification of their famous KitKat bar. This decision has immediate and real consequences on the communities that are apart of the FairTrade initiative already suffering during the pandemic – specifically those in Cote d’Ivoire, Fiji and Malawi. It is estimated that these cocoa farmers will lose nearly €2 million in assured incomes due to this decision.
Fairtrade Ireland states, “besides the new global health pandemic, farmers remain deeply affected by long-term endemic poverty, lack of services, low and unpredictable income and climate change. Fairtrade means access to children’s education, access to health centres, electricity to enable children to learn, as well as improved living and working conditions for farmers in the most remote areas where cocoa is grown.”
Alternatives set up by large companies makes it more difficult to hold them to account. What we buy and where we buy it from makes a difference. And, as climate activists, it is important to address both environmental and social concerns.
What can we do?
This activism starts in our community. At @GAPIreland our workshops and programmes work to support, enrich, and engage the local community in taking small steps towards big changes. You can find out more about how you or your organisation can take action now for the climate at https://globalactionplan.ie/education/climateactionforbusiness/. Visit us on our website or send us an email at [email protected].
So, what else can you do to help?
- You can Sign the petitionBy signing this petition you can voice your concern for the 27,000 farmers part of the fair trade certification who will lose approximately €2 million in assured income. By taking away the fair trade KitKat, communities right to fair pay, democratic distribution of resources, and collective decision-making is taken away.
- Make fair trade your purchase of choice where possible Local communities and livelihoods will be supported will benefit when you opt for fair trade!
- Ask the manufacturer of your favourite item if it is fair tradeThe more discussion had with manufacturers, the more we can ask for products with the fair trade certification.
- Research and learn more about the supply chain of your favourite products
Educating ourselves about what we consume will help us make more informed decisions about products we consume and inform our purchasing power.
Useful links to learn more: