Fairtrade is big in Britain, 6000 faith groups, 70 fairtrade universities & colleges, 490 town or cities, it is quite frankly a unique phenomenon in the UK. The launch event last night at The Royal Institute of British Architects was typical of what defines this movement. Smart and casually dressed people, milling around eating Harry’s fairtrade nuts, throw in government minister waving fairtrade coffee from the DRC, a few glam models hotting it up in fairtrade cotton t-shirts, a lot of fairtrade wine and milk chocolate Nestle Kit -Kats. Look I am still having a mind bending problem getting my head around a company I have boycotted since my teenage years now being fairtrade, ouch it really hurts. And of course the producers from around the world speaking to their collective genius. I really did feel at home, its a unique culture that is both infecting and effective.
I spent the first part of the night debating with a Windward Island banana farmer who was very keen to swap an ounce of gold for 40lbs of banana’s. He was very adamant it was good deal especially when we got to talking about the fairtrade premium he could get from the swap. I was also able to speak to a few broad sheet journalists about the fairtrade gold project. We are going to have a lot of fun in the next 12 months recasting the gold narrative in the UK and beyond. Fairtrade Gold is after all the best story in the jewellery sector.
Anyway the point is we need to keep being this grass roots movement. If you haven’t done so already log onto the Fairtrade Fortnight website and get swapping. With fairtrade sales in the UK going through £800 million in the last year the balance needs to tip to drive the idea firmly into the mainstream. 1 billion is a good next target I believe. Who knows maybe the economic fundamentalists at the Adam Smith Institute for economic regression will get out of their tank and start thinking that economic justice for the poor is a good idea afterall…