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A fair deal for all

Benefitting producers and planet – here’s why Fairtrade is the best way to shop

We’re lucky enough to be able to walk into any supermarket in the UK and be greeted with shelves stacked full with a plethora of foods to suit different tastes, budgets and diets. Given the amount of choice we have, it’s not often we pause and contemplate how that bunch of bananas made its way to our trolley – and while it may not seem a big deal, to the farmers tending dutifully to their crops in developing countries across the globe, it is. That’s where Fairtrade comes into the equation – ensuring those at the other end of the scale are treated well and paid a respectable wage in exchange for producing our goods. Not exclusive to this particular fruit either, the recognisable green and blue logo is a mainstay on an array of everyday items from coffee to chocolate to cotton. But why exactly is Fairtrade so important and how does it ensure workers have a good end of the deal, rather than simply being another greenwashing marketing ploy? We find out.

It all started in 1992 in the UK when, following persistent appeals for fairness from Mexican coffee farmers, the Fairtrade Foundation was set up. Two years later, certified Fairtrade items were available to buy and since then, the organisation has gone from strength to strength. Nowadays, the system works with over 1.65 million farmers and workers and there are 1,411 producer organisations across 73 countries, according to the University of West England. Fairtrade standards include good working conditions and rights that are neither non-discriminative or gender biased, no child or forced labour, and fair wages, too. The products must be produced with transparency and accountability, as well as in a way that respects the environment.

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About Be Kind

Hello, A lot of the good news we read about in the press is from towns, cities or countries that aren’t our own, and whilst it’s fantastic to hear of successful stories or schemes in a place far from yours, it’s always really exciting to learn of great things happening on your home turf. I moved back to my home town in Essex a few years ago, after stints overseas and in London. With most of my adolescence spent here, the streets are lined with memories, but I felt a disconnect as I grew up and wanted to seek out likeminded people and pastures new. I returned with a sense of trepidation and, probably, a slightly irritating snobbery. But things have changed and I was wrong. Take Best Days Vintage, for example (p74). Based in the heart of town, they caught my eye a while back when I saw a sign outside offering free help and advice for anyone who didn’t know how to register to vote. The vintage store is not only promoting sustainable shopping, but they have created a safe space for young people to come and talk about their problems – they’re focused on building a community and spreading positivity. My hairdressers, a converted double decker bus (@originalbutton), recently posted on Instagram about their decision to make the salon an #antigossipsalon. Gone are the celebrity gossip mags and in their place is a book swap corner. They want to use their position to spread kindness and create a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere. I think it’s a fantastic idea. You might think there is nothing going on in your locality, but kind people are making things happen everywhere. We all need to open our eyes and ears to the great things going on nearby and lend our support – and who knows, maybe you could be the next person to start a positive movement in motion. Have a great month, Phillipa Editor