Tuesday, 8 February 2011

FairTrade--more than just a Fortnight.


        Have you ever heard of “The Butterfly Effect?”  Mathematician and meteorologist, Edward Lorenz, theorized that small, almost insignificant actions can cause far-reaching and subsequent events due to the sensitive dependence of environmental conditions in nature.  During the Fairtrade Fortnight you have the opportunity to make some simple purchasing choices that can offer upward to 7.5 million people in the developing world a brighter, more prosperous future.  In other words, you can be a butterfly who creates far-reaching benefit in the lives of many people you will never meet. 
        Here in the United Kingdom, it was 1994 when packages of Black & Green chocolate, Cafe Direct Coffee and three varieties of Clipper Tea displayed the Fairtrade label for the first time.  The Fairtrade Foundation is an independent and non-profit organisation established to protect the rights of growers, workers and producers in marginalised and developing countries.  Their vision is to see that the infrastructure of international trading practices provide and maintain decency and dignity to everyone who works, and provide them opportunity to reach their full potential.  They seek justice for workers and the elimination of poverty through community development.
        What is the Fairtrade Fortnight?  Here in Great Britain, it begins Monday, 28th February and continues through to Sunday, 13th March 2011.  The purpose of the initiative is to get people in the United Kingdom to think about what they buy.  Fairtrade supporters volunteer their time to speak at schools, churches and work canteens.  They high-light products that are grown and produced by cooperatives in places like South Africa, Kenya, India, Brazil and the Caribbean.  A programme that began by producing coffee in one or two countries a few years ago has actually grown to a world-wide business system that provides over 3,000 products.  From the tea in your cup each morning, to the clothes you wear, to the football kicked around local football pitches, there is now a Fairtrade option available. 
        It’s easy to get involved.  First, visit the Fairtrade stalls in the local parish churches.  Next, whilst wheeling a cart through the aisles of your favourite grocery store, keep a look out for the Fairtrade logo on packages of coffee, tea, sugar, jam, biscuits, chocolate, etc.  Prices have become very competitive over the last couple of years. 
Take some time to visit the website:  http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/  For USA citizens, look here:  http://transfairusa.org/ You can find all kinds of resources, like recipes, information on products and about producers.  Maybe you’ll get inspired to do more than shop and the website provides listings of local campaigns.
Sunday, 10th July 2011 is the date of the British 10K London Run.  The Fairtrade Foundation is looking for people who would like to win a chance to one of twelve places to join the run along a historic route along the River Thames.  Details can also be found on the website. 
Little things can lead to big things.  Smiling at the stranger you pass as you walk down the street leads to the stranger smiling.  Who knows what the result of that is?  Did that smile bring hope?  Maybe the tiredness of the day lifted. 
Visiting the Fairtrade website can help you become more fully educated about the vision and mission of Fairtrade.  That can lead to wearing a Fairtrade tee shirt to the pub.  At the pub your friend asks about Fairtrade.  As you answer the question, you also tell your friend you’ve decided that as often as possible to purchase Fairtrade.  That friend passes the information onto other friends, who also decides to buy Fairtrade.  Go ahead, be the butterfly that creates the wind.

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