How-To Guides

To make it easier for you to fulfil your commitments, our team has put together these guides to assist you to take action!

Campaign for Fairtrade in your community

If you’ve started buying Fairtrade products and want to take your commitment one step further, a great way of doing so is encouraging other people to buy Fairtrade, too.

This ‘How To’ guide is designed to help you campaign for the adoption of Fairtrade in your local community, whether it’s among your friends, local cafes or your place of work or study.

Every single person can make a difference in the battle against extreme poverty.  One of our greatest strengths is the power we have as consumers. The products we choose to buy are reproduced in bulk, and those we don’t are not. So consciously choosing to buy Fairtrade products is an extremely effective way of influencing the market and ensuring that every person in the production chain is paid a fair price.

1: Consider who to talk to - and what change you would like them to make

For Fairtrade products to do their good work best, it’s important that the consumption of Fairtrade goods is not limited to private households, but adopted as widely as possible. Some of the best places to begin targeting are schools, your workplace or locally-run restaurants and coffee shops. Start by targeting just one of these - and then use that success to get others on board.
 
And, start by trying to replace just a couple of products with their fairtrade alternatives. Products to aim to replace first are products that:

  • are not sourced locally. If it isn’t possible to source a particular product locally, the best way of minimising the strain of imports on the environment is to go Fairtrade. Fairtrade always takes the environment into account.
  • are known to be produced by companies with poor ethical standards. Do a little research on companies that dominate the market – what is their track record like?

The transition to Fairtrade for a producing community represents not only an economic boost, but a social and environmental progression as well. For example:

Fairtrade premiums paid to farmers in Makaibari Tea Estate, West Bengal, have supported the transition from monoculture tea farming, which was bleaching the landscape of nutrients and biodiversity, to an ecologically rich permaculture, with tea growing amongst bamboo, herbs and clover. Half of the estate is given over to subtropical forest (home to two Bengal tigers, leopards, barking deer and hornbill). Furthermore, Fairtrade premiums have empowered the Joint Body (an administrative council made up of elected workers and management representatives)  to provide microcredit, allowing producers to purchase lifestock for milk and manure production, with excess manure added to the community compost heap.

In Kenya, a booming Fairtrade flower market has provided the opportunity for Finlay flowers to invest in 30 nursery schools in the area, as well as equipping the library at the local Marinyn Secondary School.

You can read more about these and other fairtrade success stories at http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/producers/default.aspx

You can also find out who else near you is working to take their community fairtrade at http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/get_involved/campaigns/default.aspx

2: Convince

Start by approaching others – schoolmates, colleagues, fellow customers, neighbours – and talk to them about the disadvantages of unethical products and the advantages of Fairtrade. Get them on board with ideas and support.

Once you have a group of people behind you, approach whoever is in charge of the organisation you’re targeting – your principal, your boss, the manager of the local restaurant or café. You will know best how to initiate this – whether by formal letter, official appointment or casual conversation. Make your case for Fairtrade:

  • Point out which products you think should be replaced and present the alternative. (You’ll find the more concrete your plan is, the less effort it will be for the organisation to take it on and the more likely you are to succeed!)
  • Outline the environmental and social benefits of changing goods. 
  • Demonstrate the minimal cost difference to them by showing them prices of different fairtrade and non-fairtrade products.
  • Demonstrate quality by bringing in fairtrade options for the products you're looking to replace, and let the person see that they're just as good, if not better than their non-fairtrade counterparts

3: Congratulate & Consume

If the organisation you're targeting goes fairtrade, you need to come up with a plan to help celebrate and promote the fact - including making an effort to buy the product yourself.

Suggestions to do this include:

  • Posting fairtrade stickers, posters and flyers in the shop
  • Doing a fairtrade testing day so everyone can taste/see the change
  • Annoucing the change to fairtrade to staff/customers

Dealing with Challenges

The main problem you will encounter when campaigning for the adoption of Fairtrade is the debate about cost. Yes, Fairtrade goods are a little more expensive than many (but by no means all!) of their non-Fairtrade equivalents. If this argument is made, have two strong counter-arguments ready:

  • People and planet, not profit. Our consumer habits should not only take profit and minimisation of costs into account, but also the wellbeing of other people. Can we really justify only paying £2 for a cup of coffee if farmers may earn as little as 5p for it? Similarly, it is in our own best interest to protect the environment on which we depend to live. Going for the ‘cheaper option’ may mean that the environment is not being treated in a sustainable way, because it makes it cheaper to generate short-term profits. On a global, long-term scale, Fairtrade wins out against short-term, localised gain.
  • Prove commitment. If going Fairtrade means a slight increase in costs in your local café, your school cafeteria or your coffee-machine at work, show whoever is sceptical about sales that there are enough people who would be happy to pay a little extra and help fight global poverty – convince the manager of your local café or school canteen that they will not lose their customers. This is why having others behind you to support your campaign is so important: the united voice of many cannot be overheard.

Find out More

The Fairtrade Foundation - www.fairtrade.org.uk - has lots of resources to help you take your community fairtrade.