Today, products of modern day exploitation are all around us within things we use every day: the clothes we wear, the food we eat and in many other, often surprising products. Many cheap cotton clothes, trainers and jeans are made in so-called 'sweat shops' in countries such as Bangladesh, Indonesia and India. Some chocolate, coffee and tea is harvested by people who are worked to exhaustion in West Africa, Brazil, and China.
These people work in conditions which do not meet national or international labour standards. They are paid less than minimum wage, have no access to trade unions and work long hours in poor and unsafe working conditions.
Today 'Fairtrade' is a rapidly growing alternative system of trade which ensures that producers and workers in developing countries get a better deal from international trade. Just like the sugar boycott started by the abolitionists 200 years ago, Fairtrade is a campaign to encourage customers to buy fairly produced goods, rather than those produced in conditions described above.
International Fairtrade standards have been created to ensure:
The FAIRTRADE Mark on products guarantees that these standards have been met. It also shows that producers and workers receive the extra Fairtrade premium to invest in projects to improve their lives, such as better access to education and healthcare and the provision of basic facilities like safe water supplies and sanitation. It also means a closer link between consumers and producers, which is crucial as our world becomes increasingly inter-dependent.
Similar to the eighteenth and nineteenth century sugar bowls labelled 'Not Made by Slaves' (see images on previous page), today you can choose to buy goods which carry the FAIRTRADE Mark. This guarantees that during their production international Fairtrade standards were met.
Through buying Fairtrade certified and other fairly traded or ethically produced goods, consumers today can take the same stand towards slavery and human rights as consumers two hundred years ago. They can use their purchasing power to make a difference to people on the other side of the globe.
To find out more about Fairtrade and how your school can get involved, visit the Fairtrade Foundation Schools website (link below).
There are several ways of referring to trade that is fair:
This is the word referring to the specific system governed by Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International (FLO) and its members including The Fairtrade Foundation in the UK.
This word (in capitals) is used only with reference to the ‘FAIRTRADE Mark’. (Some products on the Global Citizenship interactive may carry this mark for example.)
This phrase relates to the wider and more general practise of trading in a fair manner, resulting in products that are 'fairly traded'. (Some products on the Global Citizenship interactive, for example, may be fairly traded but will not carry the FAIRTRADE Mark.)