Supporting Fair Trade

Supporting Fair Trade


World Fair Trade Day will be Saturday 14th May this year. Fair Trade helps support small-scale farmers, artisans and producers to cultivate safer, healthier and more sustainable communities around the world.

The theme for World Fair Trade Day this year is Climate Justice. We are all aware that climate change is causing major problems across the world. Climate change is affecting the people in the world unevenly. “We are not all suffering in the same way. Those who are least responsible for the climate crisis are the ones who are most affected by its impacts.”

Fairtrade is a way to support those who are most vulnerable, those who are most exposed to the impacts of climate change. There are more than 1.9 million farmers and workers in Fairtrade certified producer organisations, in 71 countries in Asia, South America, and Africa—some of the countries that are most at risk because of rising sea levels, the spread of drier desert climates, the increasing number of catastrophic weather events such as floods or bushfires, and other effects of climate change.

47% of all Fairtrade farmers produce coffee, and 41 percent of all FairTrade workers produce flowers. But many other products are produced in ways that ensure they are fairly produced and fairly traded: tea, chocolate, sugar, bananas, rice, honey, nuts, vanilla wine—but also textiles and cotton, used in our clothing. There is even, now, a Fairtrade Carbon Credit scheme operating under the auspices of Fairtrade International.

An easily-recognised symbol on products marks them as Fairtrade. This symbol that designates products certified in accordance with Fairtrade Standards

These Fairtrade Standards require producers to meet minimum social, economic and environmental requirements. In addition, participating organisations are encouraged to provide an ongoing improvement of farmers’ employment conditions or the situation of estate workers. 

“When you buy Fairtrade certified products, you are part of an effective global movement for change,” says Uniting Church minister and longterm Fair Trade Advocate, John Martin, who is a member of the Executive Committee of the Fair Trade Association (ANZ). “You are also contributing, in a small but significant way, to lessening the impact of climate change.”

The Fairtrade organisation began in the UK in 1992, and has now spread around the globe, with strong support in Australia and many other countries with big purchasing power—the USA, Canada, India, Japan, and over 20 European nations.

Springwood Uniting Church is one of a number of UCA congregations which is strongly supportive of Fairtrade, holding an annual Fairtrade Festival to promote the initiative and e courage people to buy Fairtrade. About a decade ago, the Synod of NSW and the ACT agreed to use Fairtrade products, and encouraged congregations and organisations in the Synod to do likewise.

That proposal was brought by Rev. Elizabeth Raine and Rev. John Squires, who have a personal commitment to buying all their food and clothing from organic, fairly produced, and fairly traded sources. Rev. Raine said, “it can sometimes be a challenge to keep to this regime; but we believe that the time it takes, and the extra cost that is sometimes (not always) involved, is really not much to ask. We don’t want to be supporting any product that exploits, degrades, or oppresses anybody involved in making it”.

In keeping with the Climate Justice theme for World Fair Trade Day 2022, the lectionary for the next Sunday (15 May) includes Psalm 148–a wonderful statement where the whole of creation praises God.

In this Psalm, the whole of creation praises God: “Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind fulfilling his command! Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars! Wild animals and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds!” (Ps 148:7–10).
The psalm causes us to ask: how can the whole creation praise God when the life is being stifled out of it by ecological damage principally caused by climate change? Perhaps you can refer to World Fair Trade Day and use this psalm in worship this Sunday—and encourage your congregation to adopt Fairtrade products. 

For further resources, see this video, and other resources prepared by the World Fair Trade Organisation.

 To see how Fair Trade enterprises use sustainable methods in the production and packaging of their products.

 If your church uses Fairtrade products, you can apply to use the official logo.

Rev. Dr John Squires is Presbytery Minister (Wellbeing) for Canberra Region Presbytery and the Editor of With Love to the World. This reflection originally appeared on his blog, An Informed Faith.

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