Here are my 10 tips and tricks on how to integrate fairness into your daily life.
In the first place: Inform yourself. I cannot repeat this often enough. In order to integrate fair trade into your daily life, it’s necessary to know what it means and what we’re talking about. Knowledge and information allow us to enter into a stimulating cycle: the better we’re informed, the better we understand the problems fair trade strives to solve. And the better we understand these stakes, the more we want to integrate fair trade into our daily lives. That’s a somewhat virtuous cycle.
Know the diversity of FairTrade products. Know that, in fact, fair trade is not just about coffee (the example of my previous article) or cocoa/chocolate (the second-best known fair-trade product). In Quebec, you can also get FairTrade tea, wine, spices, flowers, shea butter, bananas, mangoes, grains and cereals, nuts and dried fruits, oils, artisanal products (jewelry or decors), textiles, sport balls, clothing, cosmetics, and the list gets longer every day.
Know where to get supplies from. In Quebec, Equiterre lists ALL the places you can visit and which products you can get in the greater region of Montreal. It’s like a bible on where to get fair trade supplies from, which you’ll find here.
Get FairTrade products from wherever you want! In organic fair-trade grocery stores, in specialized shops for fair-trade enthusiasts or in your usual grocery store for the more practical ones. I know that hardcore enthusiasts call it a scandal to see fair trade products being sold in large chain stores. In my opinion fair trade needs to be known. And, like specified in my introduction, I don’t believe in putting the blame on the consumer (nor on its usefulness): therefore, get your supplies from wherever you like! I already mentioned in the first episode of the saga that the term fair trade is certainly one of the most unclear ones in the history of individual consumption and international trade. Some people would counter that selling fair trade products in vast commercial spaces adds to the grey area around them: is it ethical or unethical to sell them in large distributors? I’d answer that in order for fair trade products to be known, they have to be integrated into the habits of the average consumer. But be aware that the end does not always justify the means! Understand my nuances. Being utopian (but a practical one as well!), I believe in a more responsible consumption. FairTrade products are part thereof. Once we start to recognize them, we start to buy them. Once we start to buy them, we start to demand them. Once we start to demand them, we start to ask questions. Once we start asking questions, we start to really ask questions – like, for example, about the practices of huge chain stores. And thus the wheel turns.
Recognize Fairtrade products. I acknowledge that for a certain time there were some ambiguities regarding Fairtrade logos. In fact, FairTrade Canada called itself Transfair Canada before, and its old+new names+logos have co-existed during this period of re-branding of their corporate identity. But I won’t tell you anything more about that, simply to not add to the confusion. What has to be remembered is that the new logo of FairTrade Canada is really beautiful. And moreover, it is recognized worldwide, as it is the same for all of the products from FairTrade International : an interesting turn in marketing and strategy, it has to be said.
The Fairtrade logo certifies that the Product is fair. That’s why you can find fair trade products in huge chain stores. Whereas the WFTO-World Fair Trade Organization’s and the FTF-Fair Trade Federation’s logos certify that the Organizations selling the products are fair. In that case, they are thus all issued by the social and solidarity economy. Whichever the logo is, the Fairtrade certification guarantees to you that the producers at the beginning of the chain have received a fair remuneration for their work.
Celebrate fairly. At Halloween? Fair trade chocolates for the little gourmet monsters have a much better taste! If you don’t want to terrorize those poor children with the history of the Chilean farmer, who is exploited producing cocoa (I agree that this discussion isn’t really festive) or else, if you don’t want to talk about the woman who is working many hours for only 3 little pieces of chocolate, quickly glue a fair trade sticker on your door (available for free from, for example, FairTrade). An image is worth a thousand words. If that is intriguing you, then answer the questions later in this article! Even though Halloween has not yet entered everyone’s life, the North-American tradition is beginning to invade other countries. Consequently, there’s an article by fairtrade.ca discussing fair trade Halloween. And why not chose that same approach on Valentines Day? A fair trade rose from the Equator smells nicer and stings less. Your better half will certainly be contented knowing that this rose was grown under fair conditions. Would that maybe even be a guarantee for the survival of you as a couple? ;) Do also think of the bottle of wine, which is always very classy. And if it’s also fair trade, that’s impressive. And for a birthday party? Plan a gift basket with fair trade products, including numerous gourmet products which can be tasted fairly or cosmetics to be smeared on your face or in your hair which enhance your beauty on the outside as well as on the inside. The Carrefour of International Solidarity in Sherbrooke, for example, offers this kind of fair trade basket. But there are other providers as well.
Bring fair trade to your workplace! Yes, “work is healthy” – and that’s what people say. But there’s much to be done in that regard. If the coffee break in the morning was fair, that would do good to everyone ;) And why not ask your boss to use uniforms made out of fair trade cotton? For your marketing or event campaign alike, think of using reusable shopping bags made of fair trade cotton. That could even integrate itself seamlessly into your social responsibility policy. Finally, you can also contact me to come and talk about fair trade at your workplace. In the context of the initiative Fair Trade Montréal Équitable, it would be a joy for me to come and present you with an awareness-raising conference about fair trade and to give your company tricks to integrate fairness into its social responsibility policy.
And to school! Do you have children, nephews, nieces, or god-children who are still in school? That’s similar to the workplace. Let a fair trade banana glide into their lunch box. By the way, I have always liked the short film “Mange ta banane» (Eat Your Banana) made by Max Havelaar for its promotional campaign. This will help you fuel a conversation with your children. Don’t forget to also ask their teacher, principal or any other person in their institution if they’re going to use (or are already using) products coming from fair trade. Could this possibly interest them? Look also into the campaign « Pareil pas Pareil » by Equiterre: nice and simple videos for everyone, from whatever age. For an equivalent in English, you can check out the campaign by « Dubble », a company owned by Kuapa Kokoo, a cooperative of cocoa farmers. That’s a good way to break the ice with children, or a topic to be proposed for class. Finally, also think about suggesting the use of uniforms made of fair trade cotton. In 2010, 5 pioneer schools clothed themselves in organic fair-trade uniforms. They were the first ones in all of North America. Read the article by FairTrade Canada here.
Or even in your sports and hobbies! For the little and older ones, think of the sport shirts or t-shirts coming out of organic fair-trade production, which can, for example, be ordered from FibrEthik. Don’t forget to also think about the soccer balls coming out of fair trade production, like Talon Sports proposes. There are countless products of superior quality AND coming out of fair-trade for the athletes among you.
Lastly, talk about fair trade with people around you. If you want to integrate fair trade into your daily life, it will be necessary for this to also become part of the habits of the people around you. That way, you yourself will continue the list which I just started and find your own tips and tricks to integrate fairness into your daily life. And moreover, don’t hesitate to come and talk to me about that here.
An example of a successful integration of fair trade into the workplace: the post office clerks in France, who are clothed in fair trade cotton.