In the last few years, the word ‘fairtrade’ has gained a lot of traction in the media, but what does it actually mean, and why does it matter?
In the last few years, the word ‘fairtrade’ has gained a lot of traction in the media and in personal blogs, and is now often featured throughout a number of marketing slogans. But what does fairtrade actually mean, and why does it matter to the products we purchase?
What does fairtrade mean?
Well, the term fairtrade refers to practices which allow all individuals throughout the supply chain the opportunity to improve their own lives and the future of their families, and it offers consumers a powerful opportunity to reduce poverty through our shopping choices.
Who does fairtrade benefit?
In most cases, fairtrade agreements are intended to benefit the workers directly involved in the manufacturing process, but here at Shelu, we see our responsibility a lot more broadly. In order for our products to be totally fairtrade, we start at the source, and support our farming communities as the hands that have firstly grown our crops.
We then look at our manufacturing teams and our distribution processes – and make it a priority to ensure that each of these groups receives their fair share of benefits and the opportunity to improve their lives and plan for their future.
Why does fairtrade matter?
As an example, let’s look at the cotton used to make your Shelu sheets. Cotton is one of the most important crops in the textile industry, and over the last 30 years, the price of cotton has continued to drop. While that may seem like good news, we have also seen the cost of producing the crop rising, which leads to a long term decline of income in the hands of the farmers.
The small area of land that a cotton farmer uses to cultivate their crop has to provide income for food, health care, school fees, seeds and any tools that they require. So, any fall in the price of cotton can have serious implications for the farmers and their families, especially because cotton farmers often have very little power to negotiate the price. (This is where fairtrade comes in!)
How does fairtrade help?
Organisations like Fairtrade International and the World Fair Trade Organisation exist to implement and uphold the internationally recognised Charter of Fair Trade Principles, which provides guidance on things like terms of trade and minimum price.
So, regardless of what is happening in the cotton market globally, cotton purchased from fairtrade farming organisations can be set at a predetermined price. Not only does the minimum price cover the payment to the farmers, but there is also an additional bonus called the ‘fairtrade premium’, which allows farmers to invest in their local community.
As well as the farmers, fairtrade also supports each stage from cotton production, farm, ginning (separately the cotton fibre from seed), spinning and weaving the manufacturing your sheets. Every step of the way, our partners throughout uphold the same fairtrade values, even to the extent where there are provided a canteen allowance, rent assistance and transport to and from work with a company bus! Pretty cool, right?
What does fairtrade mean for me?
As you partner with Shelu to make a difference in the cotton farming industry, you are not just buying a set of luxurious sheets, you are actually empowering the lives of thousands of people you will never meet – but because of you, their future looks very different. It is now full of opportunity for their generation and the generations to come.
“A higher income means we will be able to increase production by buying more organic manure to improve the soil. Then, we will be able to make improvements to our home.” – Khima, Shelu Cotton Farmer.
Want to know more? Here are some examples of the many fairtrade practices that Shelu has implemented to ensure successful outcomes for all of our workers throughout the supply chain:
- Short term loan schemes for farmers to finance improves to their farms
- Payments for the medical costs of disadvantaged farmers
- Irrigating schemes to conserve rainwater
- Books and clothes for the children in the community
- Farmer education and training
- Communal tractors and projects to assist with creating organic fertilisers
Interested in learning more about fairtrade or organic products, or tips for a good night’s sleep? Let us know the topics you’d like to see featured on the Shelu blog by posting in the comments section or sending a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you!