What is fairtrade?
Fairtrade is exactly what it says, which is trade that is fair. ‘Fairtrade changes the way trade works through better prices, decent working conditions and a fairer deal for farmers and workers in developing countries.’ (Fairtrade, 2022) A business that bears the fairtrade symbol has met strict standards before they get certified, to ensure that the business is run ethically. This takes into account the social, environmental and economic impact of the business, both local and globally. Currently the Fair trade mark is the most widely recognised and esteemed label for fair trade. There are, however, many different organisations around the world that work to validate and promote fair trade in businesses. But they all agree on the following principles (from Made Trade Magazine, 2021):
- Supporting global trade that puts people and the planet first
- Providing fair, living wages
- Providing healthy and safe working conditions
- Sourcing materials as responsibly and sustainably as possible
Fairtrade has several different marks, which are useful to know when shopping for fairtrade products. The standard black mark, such as the one often found on bananas, means that the product meets the fairtrade standards for production and trade, and is traceable throughout its production. There are also white marks to show if a single-ingredient or fabric is fair-trade.
Important for the fashion industry, is to known there is also a black mark for cotton: “The FAIRTRADE Cotton Mark indicates that a product is made with raw cotton that has been fairly produced and traded, which is directly traceable through all stages of production and separated from non-Fairtrade cotton during processing.” (Fairtrade, 2022) There is a second black mark for Fairtrade Textile Production, which refers to the production of the garment. A t-shirt can therefore have the black mark for both fair-trade cotton and fairtrade textile production.
These marks are useful to know as consumers, so that you understand how to read them while shopping. That way, you will always know exactly what part of the product is certified as Fairtrade.
Why is it important?
“Fairtrade is a simple way to make a difference to the lives of the people who grow and create the things we love. It’s all about making trade fair.” (Fairtrade, 2022)
Fairtrade is a lot more than a scheme for certification: “Behind the famous Fairtrade label is one of the largest and most diverse global movements for change.” (Fairtrade, 2022) In today’s society, money and products flow in and out of countries through trade, and often it is poor countries that produce, while rich countries consume.
As a consumer, you therefore hold a great deal of power each time you decide what to buy.
“For consumers who have hundreds of labels to choose from, Fairtrade provides the trust and confidence to make sustainable shopping choices.” (Fairtrade, 2022) The Fairtrade certification is an easy guide to follow, to make sure that when you are buying coffee that the farmers who grow the beans are being paid decent wages for the work, instead of a third party taking all the profit and leaving the farmers to poverty. It represents a wider community and organisation that helps farmers to choose a more sustainable method for their production, when they have the economy to do so, that runs programs to get more women to start their own businesses, to offer funds for farmers to invest and much more.
How does Solid fit into the Fairtrade model?
Solid is a Fairtrade certified company. This is important to us first and foremost because it means that we work to uphold the standards set by the world’s leading organisation on fair trade. It is important to us to be part of the movement, to show our support of fair trade, and to know that when we offer our employees and our customers a promise that we trade fairly, that we can say that convincingly.
At Solid, we share the values of Fairtrade: We commit to making ethical fashion, to not discriminate against our employees, to ensure there is no child labour, that our employees are paid fair wages at every stage, and that we provide facilities that meet labour security standards.This is how we believe all trade should be done. Being a Faitrade certified company means that we uphold the rigorous standards, and that with our work we also work to give disadvantaged people an income stability and a sustainable income, to offer them a community at work, to be healthy and secure at work, and to feel pride and achievement from their work. This focus on workers’ health, satisfaction, and safety is becoming increasingly scarce in a world inundated with fast fashion. We want to produce beautiful handmade clothing without sacrificing their humanity or ethics.
Finally, the environmental aspect is also very important to us, at Solid. It is true that in many places across the world, the poor communities are likely to be amongst the first people to feel the real effect of climate change. Indeed, many of them have already faced them for many years. Therefore, it is important to Solid that the work we do to help lift people out of poverty is also kind to the planet. Our entire model is built on the belief that we can produce sustainable products, while also lifting people up.