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Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Tips on how to buy fair trade

With Fairtrade Fortnight fast approaching we thought it might be helpful to provide some tips on how to buy fair trade. Buying fair trade is a simple way to make sure you are supporting the producers and manufacturers that work to make our furniture, coffee or cotton T-shirts.  By buying fair trade we can ensure that everyone involved with the supply chain is treated fairly and that fair prices are being paid. 

There are some really easy ways to look out for recognised fair trade products and here's a list of our top tips to help you… 
  • Look for the Fairtrade Mark. Anything recognised by the Fairtrade Foundation can carry the Fairtrade logo. This applies to all commodities such as food and drink, cotton, flowers and even gold. Just making sure that the tea you drink and the roses you buy are fair trade will mean that suppliers are being paid fairly for their products.
  • For some products such as furniture and homewares, the Fairtrade Mark doesn't apply. This makes it a little harder to make sure what you are buying is fair on the entire supply chain. However there are 10 very clear principles of Fair Trade as set out by the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO). Here at Myakka, this is what we prescribe to and monitor through regular visits and a close working relationship with our suppliers.
o   Creating Opportunities for Economically Disadvantaged Producers
o   Dealing with Transparency and Accountability – all trade is done openly
o   Following Fair Trading Practices
o   Paying of a Fair Price
o   Ensuring no Child Labour and Forced Labour
o   Showing Commitment to Non Discrimination, Gender Equity and Women’s Economic Empowerment and Freedom of Association
o   Ensuring Good Working Conditions – safe and healthy
o   Providing Capacity Building
o   Promoting Fair Trade
o   Respecting the Environment
  • While the Fairtrade Mark may not always be relevant to the product you are looking to purchase, there are various other trade bodies that retailers who truly support Fair Trade can become part of.  One particularly relevant here in the UK is BAFTS (British Association for Fair Trade Shops and Suppliers) which completes an in-depth evaluation before providing membership, along with annual renewal process. Myakka is proud to have been a  member of BAFTS since 2006.

  • While not specifically based around fair trade, there are other trade bodies that will give you a clear indication of a business's commitment to ethical practices.  One in particular is the Ethical Company Organisation which assesses the business based on corporate social responsibility, providing the Ethical Award to those who are deemed to excel in their performance.  This group also compiles the Good Shopping Guide - the world's leading ethical shopping guide.  Myakka is pleased to be listed in the Good Shopping Guide and have been awarded the Ethical Award since 2009. 

  • Do your research. Check the information that the retailer provides on their website - most businesses who follow the principles of Fair Trade operate in an open and transparent manner and are usually very happy to share detailed information with their customers.  Look for online reviews to see what opinion others have too.
  •  And finally, if you’re not sure whether the product you are buying is fair trade or not the best thing you can do is ask.  Speak to the retailer and ask why they feel their products meet fair trade guidelines.  It's a pretty on-trend band wagon to jump on at the moment and a short conversation should give you a clear idea of whether the retailer in question truly follows the principles of fair trade. 
Buying fair trade is an easy and effective way of doing your bit to make the world a fairer place. It is a key part of the Myakka ethos and we are always working to ensure the products we sell are sourced through open, respectful and fair channels.

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