You hear the term 'Fairtrade' a lot these days. But what does it actually mean? Is it just a sticker that companies slap on their products to charge you more? Does it support fair and ethical farming and manufacturing practices at the grassroots level? Is 'Fairtrade' even attainable? Or is it all something that a brand says in hopes that you will care about them and their product?
That Fairtrade Mark
When you see the Fairtrade Mark on a product, it represents Standards that are set by Fairtrade International to support the sustainable development of small producer organizations and agricultural workers, especially those in the poorest countries in the world. Using this label means that the brand has ensured that all steps of their manufacturing and trading processes meet the Standards. If a product has used the label, but aren't meeting the Standards, they open themselves up to legal action.
That's amazing, right?! The label actually means something and isn't just a sticker that brands are using so you think that they are doing good.
But, what are these Standards?
There are separate Standards written both for manufacturers and traders in different sectors. These Standards are specific to the supply chain of the sectors that they are written for. But the question that most consumers have is about what farmers are actually paid.
No Nasties purchases organic cotton from fairtrade farmers. This means that the farmers are selling their cotton under Fairtrade Standards, which gives them additional protections from market fluctuations. There are set minimum prices that fairtrade cotton must be purchased for. This ensures that farmers are making a livable wage, no matter the market fluctuations.
We pay the market rate for the cotton. Because the cotton is organic, this is always at a higher rate than regular cotton. If the world cotton market would crash, or have lower prices, the Fairtrade Standards protects the farmers' interests and inputs. And if the market swings super high, farmers are getting that higher price for their organic cotton.
Farmers are getting paid, and if the market crashes, they are still able to make a living!
The other cool thing about Fairtrade!
Fairtrade Standards also ensure that there is no child labour or child exploitation! Standards are even written to ensure that communities are working towards improving their own social development, whatever this means for them. This can include anything from ensuring there is a funded and functional community school or even running training programs for their own farmers. Standards aren't just in place for economic development. Fairtrade Standards truly wants to ensure that there is sustainable development in communities that need it most.
Fairtrade doesn't mean Organic or Vegan!
When you see the Fairtrade Mark, this doesn't automatically mean that a product is Organic and/or Vegan. There are separate entities that regulate the organic and vegan processes involved in manufacturing. This is why you will see the Fairtrade Mark, the GOTS (stands for Global Organic Textile Standard) and the Peta India Vegan (means it's vegan) label on all of your No Nasties products!
So, is 'Fairtrade' attainable?
"Fairtrade Standards have helped workers and communities across the world, with considerable success in improving access to education, healthcare and opportunities for women. But the battle is far from won. Only a small proportion of global commodities are sold on Fairtrade terms, and challenges like climate change, market volatility and armed conflict pose an urgent threat to livelihoods. In reality, there has never been a silver bullet, a click-your-fingers magic trick for ending exploitation. Fairtrade is part of the long-term solution, but Fairtrade alone cannot solve deep-rooted supply chain problems that exploit the poorest. Even with Fairtrade certification, working on a banana plantation or a coffee farm is hard. There is no sunny side to trade injustice. So the fight goes on," Patrick Say from the Fairtrade Foundation writes.
At No Nasties
Here at No Nasties, we use all of these labels: Fairtrade International, GOTS and Peta India Vegan. We work hard every day to ensure that No Nasties went into your clothing or the production of that clothing, at any step of the line. We don't want to use these labels just to show off that we have our certifications. We want to show off how hard we have worked to bring you beautiful products that haven't contributed to any Nastie in our world. This is possible, and your purchase is a vote. Use your purchasing power to tell other brands what you want for our world!
I'm sure you've heard the phrase, 'Life isn't fair.' That is probably true and will perhaps continue to be true. But imagine if each one of us decided to make a conscious effort to ensure that we weren't contributing to a Nastie, knowingly or unknowingly. It could be something as simple as researching if your favourite tee shirt was made by someone who was appropriately paid for their work.
If 6 BILLION of us made a small daily change, life would start to look a lot more fair and have a lot less Nasties. What small change are you going to make?