Global warning: a repost from #40acts

This action and it’s blog post couldn’t be more important, I reccomend it to you:

Act 21: Global warning

Creation is in trouble. Scientists predict new global crises every other day, and our governments are under increasing pressure to do something about it. But really, much of the problem lies with us. Small things, every day, make a difference. It’s the difference between leaving a legacy of destruction and ensuring life for those who come after us.

Read today’s blog by Emma Greenwood from Liberti Magazine and pick your actions:
http://www.40acts.org.uk/the-challenge/global-warning

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We want to know: what are you going to change? Got any green tips for us and your fellow 40activists? Simply use #40acts on social media, send us an email, or text your videos/photos to +447468404040 via WhatsApp. We’ll feature them on our weekly 40acts LIVE broadcast!

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The great Fairtrade debate

Fairtrade mark

It’s a sticky issue fair trade.  This was made abundantly clear to me when I tried to raise money for the Fairtrade Foundation by asking people to sponsor me for the British 10K in London.

I got three kinds of responses: some sponsored me with no query, others said ” I don’t do fair trade because fair trade instant coffee is horrible” (pardon? did I say I was asking you to buy instant coffee?) but the thing that worried me the most, were those who pointed out to me that fair trade isn’t always very… fair trade.

To be honest, I was a bit put out by this – but I owe those people an apology – and I am sorry, for judging them and being naive myself.

It turns out that sometimes they are right. The Guardian article on tea in Assam, opened my eyes and broke my heart, so I decided to write to as many companies as I could think of to see how much they knew about their own fair trade products.

I also wrote to the Fairtrade Foundation, so see what they could tell me (see below).

Some companies didn’t bother replying to me, some passed the buck straight back to the Fairtrade Foundation, and others have made a real and committed effort. you can see their responses, and the response I got from the Fairtrade Foundation here:  fairtrade company responses

The Fairtrade Foundation are making every effort in a difficult climate, to truly make a difference in people’s lives. Further to the response they gave me, it is also worth reading recent articles by them such as this one: The real cost of cheap tea.

And as they point out, at the heart of the issue, is what we, the customer, are willing to pay.

Justice in trade requires sacrifice on our part, because if something is cheap to buy, someone has had to pay for it. It is unlikely to be the company selling the product to us, so if we don’t pay, the producer or workers do.  And in these times of austerity, justice is suffering – for example, as consumers we are buying less Cafe Direct tea and coffee, so Sainsbury’s are selling less. this is what Cafe Direct had to say about it on Twitter:

Hi all, thank you so much for your support of our tea campaign recently. Unfortunately Karen is right about supply & demand, and although we got almost 1000 responses, Sainsbury’s has decided not to reverse their decision on tea. As they point out, they are still working with us on expanding the range so we`ll keep you posted. However, if you are members of any FT groups then we’d love to link up to do something with our tea. If you send us your email addresses we can chat about it further? Emily (at Cafédirect)

Note, this is Cafe Direct – a company who deals directly with small producers who are also the workers – the highest quality of fair trade you can get (as compared to fair trade bought from larger producers who then employ lots of workers).

So it comes down to this. No, fair trade is not perfect, but there are a lot of dedicated people out there trying to better the lives of the people who supply us with our goods. I believe we have a responsibility to buy products with the best possible justice pedigree we can afford.  We also need to take a long hard look at how we define what we can afford.  While we may not be able to afford all our clothes to be fair trade (second hand is a good plan B),  we won’t starve without tea coffee and chocolate, so surely if our budget genuinely is that tight (and it is for many) we could just buy less, but buy fair trade.

Finally, a smattering of companies who gave me jolly good replies:

Lush

Divine

Union Coffee

Happy fair trade shopping….

Does anything change?

I watched a program on iplayer the other day about the 14th century, called Christina: A Medieval Life.

I never used to like history at school, but now I find it truly interesting, especially when it gives you an “oh” moment… which this program did. The program documented the life of one peasant woman, and in the process, an amazing bit of English history.

There were pretty much two types of people, the rich, who had all they needed and disposable income for life’s nice things, and then there were the poor, caught in economic slavery, working for the rich before they could go home and eke some sort of existence for themselves.

Do you see my “oh” moment? Nothing has changed. The only difference is we have outsourced our economic slaves to other countries.

Others producing cheap clothes, food and luxury items, unable to pay for education, medicine or other basic needs. Just like the 14th century peasants.

It took the black death killing 1.5 million people in England alone to shake society enough to give these people freedom. I wonder what it will take for us to change?

If you are interested in this topic, try some of these links:

Stop the Traffik

IF

Live58

The Fairtrade foundation

Traidcraft

Tearfund

if issues