What is Fairtrade?

Fairtrade-certified coffee, chocolate, and wine - you've probably both heard about it and seen it in the shops. But do you really know what it means that something is Fairtrade certified and that several other things besides food carry the Fairtrade label?

"Fairtrade is an international certification of raw materials grown in countries with widespread poverty. The certification means that the product is produced with regards to high social, economic, and environmental requirements."

This can be read on Fairtrade's website. In practice, this means that whoever has grown the coffee beans, cotton, or bananas (etc.), has lived up to the international Fairtrade criteria, which both promote respect for human rights and concern for the environment. Therefore, you as a consumer have the opportunity to contribute to better working conditions and greater consideration for the environment by purchasing Fairtrade-certified products.

The Fairtrade Premium
Fairtrade actively works for the rights of growers and employees in countries with widespread poverty. They help growers improve their working and delivery conditions, as well as ensure they get paid more for their harvest. The sale of the raw material also generates a premium for the growers which can be invested in schools, infrastructure, and other social improvements. The Fairtrade Premium exists to improve the standard of living of the growers and is paid directly to the cooperatives. Fairtrade also trains the employees in various subjects such as basic health and safety in the workplace, which makes them aware of what rights they have and what they can change.

Fairtrade and the textile industry
When it comes to Fairtrade and the textile industry (concerning Fairtrade-certified cotton cultivation), it is both about promoting better working conditions for the growers and better methods for more sustainable and ecological agriculture, with consideration to climate change, among other things. Because although Fairtrade's main focus is on poverty alleviation and fair trade, there are several criteria for environmental considerations that both aim at the individual cotton grower and the planet as a whole.

Not all Fairtrade-certified cotton is organic cotton, however, 60-75% of Fairtrade-certified producers are also organic. However, the standard is to limit the use of toxic chemicals, ban genetically modified seeds and promote better water management. Regarding the more general environmental commitments, it is, for example, about taking biological diversity into account and protecting ground and surface water.

When you choose Fairtrade-certified cotton, you contribute both to a safer and healthier working environment out in the cotton fields and to an overall environmental commitment where animals, nature, and people play a role.

The impact of climate change on farmers
Due to climate change, cotton growers' land has to be renewed more often, which entails large costs that lead to unfavorable harvests. Therefore, growers must be trained in how to grow in an unpredictable climate. This is where Fairtrade comes in, among other things, and where the transition to agriculture less dependent on chemicals and irrigation, i.e. more natural methods, is becoming increasingly favorable. The growers are trained in methods for more resilient agriculture without costing nature, for example, they collect rainwater, and switch to biogas and renewable energy sources.

Good Clothes - Fair Pay
Do like Fairtrade and support the petition Good Clothes, fair pay. Good Clothes, fair pay is a European collaboration between Fair Action, Clean Clothes Campaign, Fairtrade, and Fashion Revolution (among others) aiming to establish legal requirements for a living wage for employees in textile, clothing, and shoe factories.
You'll find the petition here!