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Sustainability Quiz 4: Fair Trade

Sustainability Quiz 4: Fair Trade

Sustainability Quiz 4. Who are Fair Trade agreements designed to protect?

Wherever you shop, you are likely to be seeing more and more Fair Trade icons on food packaging - and occasionally on textile products. 

You mostly see Fair Trade claims on coffee and chocolate. Who are Fair Trade agreements designed to protect?
      Global distribution
      Growers & their Workers
      Coffee shops
      Chocolate eaters (everyone)

Global south coffee and cocoa bean grower protection

Fair Trade claims are basically saying that farm gate buyers don’t screw their growers. The facts of Cocoa and Coffee beans is that most are grown in developing countries - in the global south. Because the beans in high demand around the world, they often come from poor farmers who sometimes use child labour and or underpaid workers to harvest the beans.

Certified Fair Trade buyers pay prices that cover the costs of producing crops sustainably with decent working conditions – including no discrimination, slave or child labour. Some labels also include strong environmental standards that encourage organic or equivalent practices – reducing environmental & societal toxicity, ingredient traceability requirements, and the use of other fair trade ingredients.

What can you do?

If you are buying either packaged coffee or chocolate, effective action is really easy. First, if you don't see a Fair Trade logo or declaration, the simplest thing to do is move on down the shelf line. Look for a Fair Trade mark - or a self declaration. (And read it.) These are a number of organisations whose logos you will see that signify either directly or indirectly a Fairtrade certification. Here are the main ones:

Of course some companies also self declare, which is absolutely fine. Make sure the product packaging outlines specifically what the declaration means - and what is actually being declared - ie, the labelling isn't just talking about what Fair Trade means.

Buying local is also a good option. In countries like Australia, you know workers are protected. If you are buying locally made specialty chocolates, ask the retailer where they sourced their raw ingredients, if they don't declare. 

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