World Fair Trade Day 2023: reimagining the economy
World Fair Trade Day happens every year on the second Saturday in May. This year the WFTO is asking us to focus on reimagining the economy in the aftermath of the pandemic.
Fair Trade enterprises fully commit to and practice the ten principles of Fair Trade and they have a positive impact on one million livelihoods, of which a staggering 74% are women! They champion local communities, upcycling projects and organic farming, empowering women and refugees its impact is felt across the globe. Farmers and producers support and trade with each other, speak up collectively and meet regularly to exchange news, ideas and best practice.
Our current global economic model is unsustainable in terms of resource consumption, environmental degradation and social inequality. The World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO) says “We must reimagine the economy. Regenerative Business is crucially important to find a more sustainable and equitable way forward.” We agree. However, as we seek to build a better, more eco-friendly future for our planet, we must also seek to build a better and more sustainable future for our businesses and our economies.
How do we do this?
- Ask questions: question the impact of your purchasing choices by researching the ethical principles of your favourite brands; you might be surprised to find that they may not be so ethical after all.
- Be responsible with your consumption: your purchasing power is a powerful weapon. Use it to choose products and services that are produced using fair labour and eco-environmental practices; reduce the amount of single-use items you use; choose products with minimal or eco packaging; lead by example.
- Support small and local businesses: supporting local businesses is hugely important, but choosing to support those who prioritise fairness and sustainability too will help to reduce the environmental impact of transportation as well as supporting your local economy.
- Raise awareness: we’re not talking about organising a protest march, you can raise awareness about Fair Trade, ethical choices and sustainability by sharing information with your friends on social media, organising or attending events and campaigns and asking businesses about their sustainable and equitable practices.
- Support local initiatives: actively show your support for and promote local initiatives that prioritise sustainability, good ethics and fairness, such as community gardens, farmers’ markets, ethical businesses and eco-friendly transport options.
The WFTO say that “we need to populate the economy with entrepreneurs, producers and buyers that put the well-being of people and the health of our planet before profit-maximising. It’s time to reimagine the economy!”
So, how do we, the Ethical Gift Shop & Refillery, as a business support this notion?
Well, we research the ethical principles of all the products you find in our shop. Our Fair Trade producers are all recognised either by the WFTO or BAFTS (British Association for Fair Trade Shops and Suppliers). These organisations do the investigation work for us, so we can guarantee that all the workers involved in making or farming our products have been treated well and paid well. Buying Fair Trade and Fairtrade (there is a difference which I will explain in a future blog), guarantees:
- In the case of our gifts, clothing and homewares: the use of recycled and sustainably sourced materials; eco-friendly manufacturing techniques and shipping; the fair treatment of workers; affordable (and often interest free) financing options; access to global markets; children go to school instead of working.
- In the case of our produce and food items: the farmers are treated well; methods are eco-friendly; a Fairtrade Premium is paid to the farmers; access to affordable (and often interest free) financing options; access to global markets; children go to school instead of working.
We also have a plethora of local crafters, artists and food producers whom we interrogate thoroughly before taking in their work or produce, to ensure they meet our business ethics. So, you can be sure that all the items we sell in our shop are as sustainable as possible given the information we have been able to obtain, whether that be from the producer directly, the co-operatives that we use or the WFTO and BAFTS registered wholesalers, producers and artisans that we buy from.
We are also members of the Huntly Ethical Trading Initiative (HETI), which is the steering group responsible for educating local people about the ethical choices they have in the area. It’s also the group responsible for achieving and maintaining Huntly’s Fairtrade Town status. We have been instrumental in helping this to happen, indeed, Ellie has taken over the role of Chair of HETI so this responsibility now rests firmly on her shoulders.
So, to address the conundrum posed by the WFTO this World Fair Trade Day: how do we reimagine our economy? By thinking about how we shop, where we shop and what we buy. By just taking a few minutes to think before we buy, reimagining the economy isn’t so daunting; we can all do our bit to make our economies more eco-friendly and sustainable.
Facts and figures taken from the WFTO website: www.wfto.com