(by Jo Salter of Where Does It Come From? published in Suffolk Families Magazine September/October 2015 )
You’ve probably heard of Fairtrade. It’s been around in various forms for many years and its main aim is to ensure that the people who produce things for us are treated properly. Everyone likes a bargain but unfortunately the drive for cheaper and cheaper products has meant that the people at the beginning of the chain, the farmers, the pickers, the miners or the garment makers, aren’t being paid enough to live. Sometimes they are ‘bonded labour’ which is not far from slavery. Sometimes they are even children. We are so disconnected from the people who make things for us that it is easy to forget that they are real people going about their day-to-day lives with similar personalities and ups and downs as us.
You will have seen the Fairtrade Mark (left) on a number of products in the shops. The most popular of these are bananas, coffee, tea and chocolate but there are also Fairtrade spices, gold, sugar, flowers and even cotton. There are now 1210 Fairtrade certified producers in 74 different countries! These producers benefit in a number of ways, including receiving a fair price (set by International Fairtrade bodies), decent working conditions and the Fairtrade premium. The premium is an amount of money paid to the community to improve life for the people of that area. The premium has been used locally to build schools, roads or even healthcare. If you see a product with this Mark on the packaging you will know that some of the ingredients have come from these producers and that you are directly helping to improve their lives. There are over 4500 different products available in the UK to choose from! Ipswich itself is a Fairtrade town and has a lovely Fairtrade shop full of beautiful cards, gifts and food and household supplies – well worth a visit!
Where Does It Come From? is an Ipswich based Fairtrade clothing business. We work with partner organisations in India to create beautiful, long-lasting clothes that are produced according to Fairtrade standards. We are so convinced of the importance of connecting with those that make our products that everything we create comes with a code on the label. When you type your code into our website you can find out about how your garment was made and connect with the people who were involved in making it. Our clothes are made in co-operatives which use traditional skills such as hand-weaving and block printing. Many of the workers choose to work from home in their remote villages, or in a central village location. We work with these organisations to help them achieve Fairtrade accreditation – right now we are undergoing certification for a brand new cotton standard which covers the whole supply chain. We believe that by working with these artisans we are not only helping them with their livelihood and the dignity that goes with that, but also we are giving their wonderful skills a route to market. Our handwoven denim is really soft and long lasting, our blockprinted shirts, dresses and jackets are unique and beautiful. Buying Fairtrade gives us a link to those who create things for us and gives us access to great products at the same time as helping the people who made them.