by Mary Linnell-Simmons, Marketing and Communications Manager, Fairtrade America
It's Fair Trade Month! And with it comes the launch of Fairest of Them All - the biggest awareness campaign from Fairtrade America to date.
This year for Fair Trade Month, we are asking everyone to be mindful about the value of Fairness - what does it mean to you? How can you be fair in your everyday life?
"Fairtrade" - as a certification, a system, a movement - can sometimes seems so. Darn. Complicated! (Speaking of which, if you ever have a question about it, shoot it our way.) That's why, this Fair Trade Month, we wanted to focus on Fairness; a value that most of us hold dear.
What is Fairness?
While campaigning at a farmers' market in Alexandria, VA (which is a Fair Trade Town) three weeks ago, I asked shoppers what fairness meant to them. Many answered something along the lines of "treating others how you want to be treated."
That really resonated with me.
It seems the essence of fairness is equality. Fairness isn't sameness. It isn't having exactly what someone else has or being exactly what someone else is. It's about feeling like there is a level playing field.
Why are things not fair for farmers?
The whole reason Fairtrade exists is because it isn't a level playing field for smallholder farmers and farm workers in developing countries. Take a crop like cocoa, the key ingredient in many a favorite dessert. It's under threat not only because climate change is causing trees to die, but also because the average age of a cocoa farmer in West Africa is 50 and the life expectancy in cocoa-producing countries like Cote D'Ivoire is around 53-years-old.
Young people simply don't want to become cocoa farmers because they've seen others struggle to earn a decent living and even just to feed their families. Instead, many young people are moving to the city to try and find more fair work. As a result, many are worried there will be a severe cocoa shortage in the near future.
And this isn't just cocoa. Young people are leaving behind family farms in search of a better, fairer future.
What makes Fairtrade?
However, with Fairtrade, farmers earn a more sustainable price, as well as well as an extra Fairtrade Premium to democratically invest in their communities. Fairtrade standards prohibit child and forced labor, and many pesticides and chemicals that are toxic to the environment. Companies and traders comply with rules committing to open, more transparent trade deals. And so farmers are better able to care for their families, their communities and their land - which is definitely fairer, in our opinion.
How fair are you?
So, what do YOU think? Do you consider Fairness each time you shop? Do you try and do right by others as you go about your day? Or do you keep your head down and look out for number one?
Take our Fairness Test and see just how fair you are. Your score will be added to our fairness map, which changes with each test taken. Which state will be the fairest of them all? (What? No, we're not taking bets in our office. Why would you ask? *cough*Wisconsin*cough*)
After you take the Fairness Test, make a pledge to buy just one Fairtrade product during Fair Trade Month. If you do, you could be entered to win 1 of 20 fabulously fair prizes that we'll be giving away this month.
Share your scores and pledges on social media!
What else can you do?
But don't stop there - go further! Download our free resource packs and help us spread the word this Fair Trade Month. You can take the next step by hosting an event (order our free swag bag for it!), starting a Fair Trade Campaign in your community, bringing Real Food Challenge to your university or having a Green Halloween.
Share with us how you're being fair this Fair Trade Month. Tag us (@FairtradeMarkUS) in photos, blogs, events and videos so we can spread the word about Fairness Champions like you. Get inspired by these Fairness Champions - read their stories and watch their videos (Dion will give you all the feels).
We hope the Fairest of Them All Campaign helps you start a dialogue with your friends, family and community about how we all can treat others how we want to be treated. We'll host a series of guest blogs throughout the month where writers reflect on what Fairness means to them. Write your own blog or email us if you want to contribute.
If you don't know where to start that conversation, just show them this video. I think we can all agree that this is NOT what fairness looks like!