With Fair Trade Fortnight here (May 3rd-18th), we take a closer look at what buying Fair Trade really means…
We’ve all heard about blood diamonds and there’s blood chocolate too; where orphaned children as young as 10, who have never eaten chocolate and don’t even know what it is, are put to work cracking cocoa beans with machetes, cutting themselves and bleeding into the beans which are then blended into delicious treats in factories across the world.
Lost the taste for chocolate?
Fortunately, you can still enjoy chocolate as this scenario doesn’t happen with certified Fair Trade products. Plantation workers have safe and fair working conditions and are properly paid. The growing and manufacturing conditions are organic, safe and carefully managed to benefit the worker, the product, the environment and the end consumer.
Fair Trade products aren’t necessarily more expensive, but if we don’t give some consideration to how we personally buy beyond price, there may be other people involved who will pay dearly in terms of their wellbeing, safety, working conditions and happiness. And there are often environmental consequences as well.
Are you complicit in the slave trade?
It’s easy to get caught up in our own busy world, but do please spare a thought for where your purchase comes from; who made it, how they were treated, how well or poorly they were paid, what impact the production of your purchase had on the environment and how healthy it is for you as the consumer. Most of us consume coffee, tea, cocoa, chocolate, sugar, wine, flowers, fruit, bananas, honey, cotton, wine, diamonds, gold and/or handicrafts, so we are all responsible.
What’s in it for you?
Genuine Fair Trade means nobody is disadvantaged. You will be benefitting from higher quality products that are safe and you can also be assured that you’re making a positive difference to the lives of others and the world at large. There’s light chocolate and dark chocolate, and then there’s very dark chocolate. Buying Fair Trade means there’ll be nothing that leaves a bitter taste in your mouth.
I’ve heard people say they don’t care where their Aboriginal art comes from and they just want to hang something on the wall. I’m sure those people would care if they understood the difference an ethical purchase can make. Artwork sourced from not-for-profit Aboriginal-owned corporations and their agent galleries inhibits exploitation, can relieve poverty and also advance living conditions. The artist is fairly remunerated, and a portion of the money enables the art centre to provide art materials and wide-ranging resources for the wellbeing of the community, including training and employment opportunities.
Again, we all need to spare a thought about where and how our purchases are created, take responsibility for what we purchase and be careful that we’re not unwittingly passing the buck.
Words: Di Stevens from Tali Gallery, www.taligallery.com.au.
667 Darling St, Rozelle. T. 9555 6555.