Fairness is a strange concept. Our sense of competition, of always wanting to make a better life for ourselves, of climbing the ladder, can sometimes cause us to be blinkered when it comes to seeing what our aspirations are doing to people around us.
Unfairness can be a by-product of being ambitious in the workplace. But the word easily covers the potential consequences.
Magnify this on a worldwide and historical scale and unfairness seems such a puny word. For most of history the weak and the poor have often been cruelly treated by the ruthless and wealthy, who have arrogantly stripped resources, exploited whole communities and demonstrated not a shred of fairness as they slashed and burned in the name of profit.
So the concept of fair trade shouldn’t work. It seems too lowly, too insignificant, too small to stand a chance of repairing the damage the developed world has caused to communities in Africa, Asia and South America and the Caribbean.
But fair trade, it seems, does work. People get it. They’re buying it. And it is helping poor people to make a decent living.
Born in Europe more than 40 years ago, the now-familiar Fairtrade logo has taken a while making an impact on our supermarkets and high streets. However, the organisation’s struggle for better trading conditions, gender equality, fairer access to markets and safer working conditions in remote regions is making a difference.
Fairtrade pays producers fair prices. We may pay a little more for their goods but the reward is that we’re helping to improve people’s lives.
Recognition of the Fairtrade mark stands at 90% in the UK and British shoppers are spending more than ever on items like Fairtrade tea, coffee, chocolate and bananas. In 2009 nearly £800million worth of Fairtrade products were purchased in UK stores, compared with about £22million a decade earlier.
The UK is one of the world’s leading Fairtrade markets, with more than 3,000 certified products in retail and catering outlets. Globally, Fairtrade sales have increased dramatically, reaching €2.89bn by the end of 2008.
It’s taken a while but it seems like the developed world has experienced during the past decade or two an unprecedented bout of fairness – almost an attempt to redress the balance and pay restitution for the damage we have done to our less ambitious neighbours.
We may be salving our collective conscience by sipping Fairtrade coffee or peeling a Fairtrade banana, but it’s doing some good. At long last, we’re doing the right thing. The fair thing.Buy Fair Trade - Fair Trade Jewellery, clothing, toys and much more