Posts filed under ‘Fair trade – general’
Although Melton is a pretty small market town, it does boast its very own Fair Trade store.
The Fairtrading Post is located right in the center of things, adjacent to the market place. It is run on a very different basis to the store we had in Missouri – managed and staffed entirely by volunteers. It seems to be doing well – having just moved to a new premises giving 4 times the floor space.
We haven’t volunteered any time yet, but will do so once things have settled down a little more.
Elsewhere in the town, fair trade products are readily available in the grocery stores – much more so than we were used to in Springfield.
Melton calls itself a fair trade town – more information on that here – but in truth that makes fair trade seem more mainstream here than it actually is. Still – we can hope….
Before getting back to David’s telephone conversation, a couple of background information “nuggets” might be useful.
David’s first “proper” job after first graduating from college was with his brother Peter. Peter had earlier launched a jewellery design and manufacturing company called Vipa Designs. Like many other manufacturing businesses, jewellery has changed dramatically in the UK over the past 20 or 30 years. Most of the small to medium manufacturing companies have disappeared, and the bulk of mass manufacturing is now shipped overseas. During that time Vipa has bucked the trend and grown steadily, gaining a reputation for innovative design and high quality manufacturing whether for one-off pieces or for larger quantities.
Before opening Global Fayre, we had no idea of just how complex the topic of fair trade is. Three years later, our understanding of the whole issue is deeper, but our awareness of some of the complexities is deeper too. Just what “fair trade” actually means differs widely from product to product. When something like coffee is certified as fair trade, we all know that this means that the growers have been paid a fair trade price; it doesn’t tell us anything about the importer or the roaster. Conversely, when you purchase a typical piece of fair trade jewellery, you know that the producer group that made the piece has been treated fairly, but you probably don’t know anything about how the raw materials were produced.
A really exciting announcement was made in the UK this year on Valentines Day; the Fairtrade Foundation and the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) had come together to certify the world’s first fair trade and fair mined gold. Around 15% of the world’s gold production is sourced from small scale miners, numbering around 15 million. Conditions in these small scale mines are often hazardous both to the people working there and the local environment. (more about this in a later blog). The UK initiative focuses on the three core areas of the gold supply chain: a cluster of small-scale mines, a handful of gold traders, and around 20 designer jewelers (again – more of this in a later blog).
So – nuggets over, back to that phone call.
David and Peter have often used each other as sounding boards, personally and professionally. David was doing exactly that with Peter after the closure of Global Fayre when Peter said “come and help me make this fair trade gold thing work” (or something to that effect). Vipa Designs is one of the 8 companies currently licensed to trade in fair trade gold. Quite where this will lead is not clear, but it’s exciting to find a new challenge and to be able to contribute in some way to the growth of fair trade and ethical business.
So – we’re off to England! David, Cheri and the girls are very very excited. We’ll be living near our family there in the middle of the country.
For now at least, this means that Global Fayre is on hold in terms of having an online store and doing educational work. Our hope is that once we get settled in England (we move in August) we can pick the reins back up; however that works out, we’ll keep posting here and on our facebook page. We remain just as passionate about fair trade as ever, and get a real sense that more and more people are joining us in wanting to become conscious consumers.
The Fair Trade Foundation just issued a report showing a 22% increase in global fair trade sales in 2008. That would be a great result anyway, but it is all the better given the general economic conditions we’re experiencing.
Fair Trade sales in the US rose 10%, but we were eclipsed in total sales for the first time by the UK, who saw a massive 43% increase in 2008.
You can check out the full report here.
At this rate, this Fair Trade thing might actually catch on here!
For more information on Fair Trade in general, and Global Fayre in particular, go here.
It was great to hear NPR run a story on Fair Trade this morning.
The discussion was pretty limited, focusing only on tea, coffee, chocolate and bananas, but every little piece of exposure helps!
You can hear the story here.
Cheri and I just got back to Springfield, after spending 5 days in Portland in the company of some of the most awe-inspiring and motivated people that I think I have ever encountered.
The occasion was the 15th Conference of the Fair Trade Federation, the trade group that brings together Fair Trade wholesalers and retailers of North America. Having been accepted as members of the FTF earlier in the year, and having never been to a conference previously (although a members-only conference on the first day, after that it is very much open to the public) we were excited to attend, but also unsure of what the event would be like, how worthwhile we would find it, and frankly whether or not we could afford to attend.
You can find out more about the events of the Conference at the FTF website (www,fairtradefederation.com). The whole event was pretty intense, with session after session aimed at giving the members the tools they need to keep growing, especially in the difficult economic climate. It was emotional too, with many of the members making it clear that their businesses were struggling badly, but that one thought kept them going; the need to continue providing a route to market for the thousands of artisans in countries around the world that depend on the Fair Trade movement.
It was great from a personal point of view to meet many of the people that we have been working with since opening Global Fayre in Dec 2007. In virtually every case it was the first time we had met in person.
All-in-all, the conference gave us both a renewed sense of energy, urgency and commitment to Fair Trade. See you next year in Boston!