What is Fairtrade? How do we cope with sticker shock when in the shops? Is it possible to have environmental justice without justice for workers? We tackle these questions and more as we return to one of our favourite topics - yes, you guessed it, food!
In today’s episode, we use the UK-based Fairtrade Fortnight (yes, that means two weeks, Brandee) as a jumping-off point to discuss Fairtrade labels, sustainable production, and justice for all. We share our thoughts about navigating the supermarket aisles and whether we really can trust food labels.
So grab some tea, get comfy, and hit that play button.
Find our previous episodes at https://theteaonsustainableliving.com.
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Links and resources:
Fairtrade Foundation (UK)
ABOUT B CORP CERTIFICATION
Cruelty Free International
Global Organic Textile Standard
The Treehugger Guide to Sustainable Certifications
-Brandee and Hannah
Note: This transcript is mostly unedited.
Hello and welcome to the tea on sustainable living podcast where your hosts, Hannah, and Brandee try and help each other navigate the big messy gray area of giving a shit about the planet and hopefully helping you along the way.
Each episode we have honest chats about our sustainability fails, sometimes amongst ourselves and sometimes with guests, while also leaving you with a little sprinkle of hope and inspiration to keep on giving a shit.
So go make yourself a cup of tea, get comfy, and let's dive into the episode. Hello, Give-a-Shitters. This is Brandee.
And this is Hannah.
And you're listening to episode number eight of the tea on sustainable living podcast. Why are you laughing?
I thought you I thought you were waiting. There was like a little pause. It was like she waiting for me to say like, oh, the coffee still needs to kick in.
I think it's an internet thing too. Because yeah, we're still recording over zoom out of convenience. And well, laziness To be honest, I don't know what you're talking about. Anyway, today we are talking about fair trade. What it means and there's an event. This is kind of based around in the UK and spilling the tea. Diving into the gray area. You know the drill, and I'm back to drinking tea. Last week, or last episode was a bit of a fluke. I have no fear. Tea is being had by me.
No, I'm still on coffee. I think we I think I've literally only had tea when I've recorded at your
house. Yeah, that was like what the first two episodes Hi.
So what kind of tea? Oh, well,
does he I'm drinking is not the tea that we're focusing on. But it's I don't know how to say ribose.
Do we Rooibos ruin I don't know.
It's our OIBO s I think at least on the tin that's in my cupboard. I don't know much about it. I'll probably feature in a future episode. But this is like coconut and like Carmel and it's delicious. But anyway, this week, this episode, not really focusing on a tea but more plant. And it'll make more sense because there's a company I want to talk about. And they are known for selling their green leaf to nearby tea factories in Kenya. So it kept saying green leaf and then selling it to tea factories. So that leads me to believe it's not green tea. It's it's the plant and I started looking this up, I'll leave links to what I was, but I was getting confused about what green leaf is and had a long, unpronounceable name, and I think it can be made into multiple teas. Anyway, this company, Fin tea growers cooperative union limited in Kenya, we'll just refer to them as fintie is a union of five tea cooperatives whose farmer members sell their green leaf to nearby finlays Tea factories. And I found this company on the fair trade.org.uk website that Hannah actually sent to me because there is a spare trade on fortnight. Which yes is two weeks, but the actual thing is like it's like an event where people come together. I'll read the excerpt from the website for two weeks each year at the end of February and start of March. So by the time this is out, I think you only have like three more days, till March 6 1000s of individuals, companies and groups across the UK come together to share the stories of the people who grow our food and drinks. Mine are gold and who grow the cotton in our clothes, and people who are often exploited and underpaid. So fair trade in simple terms is avoiding, you know, the exploitation and underpayment of people people behind our products. So I thought this is really interesting. I've heard a fair trade before but I hadn't heard about this event.
Yeah, this is quite interesting to me. Because for me like when I saw it come I was like looking for things that the show could link to and I was like oh Fairtrade fortnight because actually it's genuinely like a really big event in the UK. Like I remember at school we would do like Fairtrade fortnight it was always a thing at like, like I grew up going to church. It was a thing at church and just fairtrade in general like the I mean, I don't know it's not really a brand but like as a movement is pretty big in the UK. I don't Is it big
in the in the state? Yeah. So I was diving into that. So I think the trademark like Fairtrade, like one word, I think is like a third party like type certification. I was getting confused on like, the organization fair trade. I found a website fair trade america.org which I mean, was these websites use the same logo for it looks like it's they're all they're related. And I'll leave links in the show notes. So I was getting confused on the exact like, is this a branch of like, how does this all work together? That's besides the point it's, I think it's they're related somehow. It's like gives the seal of like so I'll probably put a either a link or the actual logo like in the show notes so that you can have a visual of like this emblem and it'll you'll see that on products you buy. So that you know that like has like this Fairtrade stamp of approval like it is. It's been vetted and it's known that this is your supporting the people behind that product when you buy an item with that logo. Yeah. So I know like, I'm familiar, like I've seen it before. I'm familiar with it. Yeah, I think this this event seems pretty cool to like, to just raise awareness but to like, you know, showcase.
Yeah, it's interesting, because it's definitely like a big thing. I mean, yeah, I would say I would say in general, it definitely was in school and it definitely wasn't like church. I don't know. And I feel like it's a thing like the workplace like the typical thing. It's like a fair trade people might have like a Fairtrade stand and like, you know, sell some of the fairtrade products or Yeah, I mean, obviously, like Fairtrade is for year round, but I guess it's like a good way to highlight. You know, what's going on? Would you say it's something you look for on products? I look at and I notice, yeah, okay.
I look for it more now. And for those who have not heard of it before, I've seen it before, I've noticed it before. You know, kind of touched on what Fairtrade is, but why is it important, I mean, people in the whole like, you know, sustainability movement, if you're starting to dive into that world, people often push for are more familiar, more familiar with, oh, like, the material of my clothing, versus, you know, like, oh, like in Primark, this organic, cotton T shirts, $10 or 10 euros, whatever. But that's not the fair price of it, the fair price will be a lot more to make sure that the person who not just so the shirt, but who worked in helps them with where they want harvest the cotton, all people involved are paid fairly. Like there's no way that 10 $10 Yours, whatever is is a fair price. So I think yeah, it's easy to
good nose, I was gonna ask. I mean, I'm pretty clear about why it matters. But why do you think it matters if we're just talking about mitigating the effects of climate change? If we're taking that approach towards? Yeah, what why does Fairtrade matter?
Trying to avoid this? I don't know how to work people are important. And what does it matter if we still have a planet if we're causing harm to people? To put it in simple blunt terms? I don't know how to say it more eloquently.
No, I agree. But I think it's an interesting one, right? Because if you it comes out to all those questions like, Oh, if you. I mean, this is a terrible example. But like, Oh, if you if you want to keep eating meat, purely for the environment, like sustainability, while sustainability is not sustainable, but for like climate change, it's better to not give animals a lot of space. Right, like, I mean, that's a terrible argument. But you can kind of go down that that route? I don't know. I feel like I'm not really sure where I want to go with this. But I guess just that. Yeah,
I think bottom line, yes, people are important. And the the ways in which people are affected by things that are contributing to climate change, whether it is like a dairy farm or slaughterhouse and people who live nearby and, you know, their water sources contaminated because of the nearby factory farms. They're just all intertwined. So making changes in the name of sustainability and mitigating the effects of climate change. Like you have to consider the people. Because, yeah, as we've so eloquently put, people are important.
People are important. Yeah. Full stop. Yeah, so it's an interesting because I was thinking do I, is it something I look for and I have to admit, I don't think I do. Keep an eye on whether things I'm growing. I'm growing. I'm buying. I'm not growing anything. I don't really keep an eye on if things I'm buying a fair trade. I'm not sure I'd have to have a look. I'm not sure if it's here in Spain, there's probably an equivalent, like we'll have to I'll do some research and I'm pretty sure night.
Yeah, I'm pretty sure I've done That's that same Amazon logo. I think I have products on it. I mean, part of my kind of spilling the tea is I don't always buy those products over the alternatives. Because yes, like Generally speaking like when you buy something made of organic cotton or linen or whatever, unless it is at somewhere like Primark it is more expensive. So to buy stuff like that to buy those products for your daily weekly groceries that it will increase your, like the grocery budget for example. So like coffee and chocolate are two big ones. Yeah, the production of those goods are yeah are involved in a lot of nice things for the people involved. So like this spin tea, which I found on the fairtrade website, was one of the featured companies under the T section. Also have sections for it was tea, coffee, chocolate. What else was it? I forget they have it yet broken down. Yeah, cocoa farmers, coffee farmers, cotton farmers, flower farmers, gold miners, sugar farmers, wine farmers, and then they have a section for other products. That's cool. Yeah. And they feature Yeah, various, some various farmers. And so you can get to know the people behind what you're buying. Because there is such a disconnect between between what you buy, you have no idea whether it's an item of food item of clothing. You're not involved in the process, as industrialized as we've become like you were not growing, growing things ourselves and then eating that food. Some people are, but we I think that disconnect, Ken and as you acknowledge it, you just don't just don't know any better. And
no. And you think this is like a good way of combating that in a way because I guess it removes the need for you to do that research yourself. Yes. I mean, if you trust that particular organization by giving it this like, label, you can kind of trust that it's been produced grown, etc sustainably. Yes. I think that's a helpful thing.
Yes, absolutely. I think third party certifications in general are excellent. They can be expensive and time consuming. So just because something doesn't have like a label to say, Oh, we're Fairtrade organic or this or that doesn't mean they're not and maybe they just can't afford the product. But if a company is making claims, you want to see that they have the certification back it up that it's not them being biasing, look how great we are, someone else has come in with a objective view to get the certification. So I look at it as like a stamp of approval. Great see that by it. I never I'm looking for like a new product, whether it's food or clothing or whatever, I will go on to the certified B Corp website, which is another third party certification that looks at various aspects of community sustainability. And they have a range of score but you have to meet like a certain like, get reached a certain number score to like be to be considered or to use that um, their logo. But no, yes. So Fairtrade I think if you see this logo, it to me seems very legit. They've done the research and I trust it. I mean, I think you started a little bit of research on what the the actual certification, the third party, whatever is and what they do, and like the bunny logo that shows that it's an item is cruelty free, like a lot of cosmetic products, home cleaning products, etc. You know, get to know the the big players, like gods to OTS is, was it sort of organic cotton? I forget, I'll leave links to some of the big players but do a lot of research get familiar with what the logos represent. But yeah, I think the spiritual one is a great place to start if that is like the priority you have chosen to start spending your money in a more, I don't know. Just better buy. Yeah, if you have the money to do so because like we said, it is more expensive. So sometimes I buy the coffee and chocolate with the fairtrade logo. And sometimes I just buy whatever's cheap at whatever grocery store I'm at. So yeah, that's yeah, I mentioned before that's the approach I've I've chosen to to take and kind of spread my money and like both options instead of going all in on the expensive one or saying no, I don't care. So sometimes, yeah, I bought with my dollar euro sometimes. For now, that's okay. Yeah.
Hello, Give-a-Shitters. Brandee here. I just wanted to quickly interrupt this episode to tell you a little bit more about our show notes. Each episode has a dedicated show notes page on our website, the T on sustainable living.com/show notes, where you can find more information about the topic of the episode. In addition to links to any articles and resources mentioned in the episode, we throw in a few more ways for you to keep on giving a shit from articles and documentaries to books and apps. We want each show notes page to help you are better equipped with information and tools to take action today. You can think of it as a choose your own adventure. We'll also update you on our chosen actionable item from the episode to let you know how it's going for us. So after this episode, head on over to our show notes page at the T on sustainable living.com/showdowns All right now back to the episode
Yeah, I think it's one of those ones as well where you could also choose like a certain product as a way to start. Like for example, for coffee I pretty much always that is something that I always try and buy the more sustainable option or like the fairtrade option, also because it's pretty easy. I think a lot of people know that coffee has the background of exploitation or at least I don't I don't know if a lot of people know but like, I feel like it's one of those ones it's pretty easy to find in a supermarket like your just regular supermarket they'll normally be an option that's like Fairtrade option or organic option. And you know, you can also buy coffee at your like local coffee shop that also might be a better option although, I guess there's no guarantee not sure. So that could also be a way like choose one product where you're like okay, this product I'm always going to you know, try and buy Fairtrade
Yeah, I personally would like to be better at the coffee and chocolate and I think oh, you know, something hopeful is it I am seeing this more these products more in like regular grocery stores. And yeah, it can be hard when it's right next to the cheaper option. Sometimes I do when I do my grocery shopping at the organic store. It's it's a lot easier I mean, the price point is already higher so there's less like sticker shock and comparison. But yeah, yes. I like what you said about going to your local coffee shop like if you choose coffee, when in doubt if you either can't afford a Fairtrade option, your local shops whether it's coffee, tea, whatever are likely to to have products that they've sourced from, like an ethical sustainable place. Producer Yes, thank you. And that is a good example they might not they might not be being like emblems or logos or you know, this stamp of approval but I think when in doubt going local is a good route to go
Yeah. I'm trying to think is it I was gonna say Do you know what the requirements are? To be labeled as Fairtrade
Good question. Notice part on the website says how easy buying Fairtrade is you just look for that Fair Trade Mark. Apparently there are over 6000 Fairtrade products getting involved I don't know it's a good question. But I know from what I know about third party certifications in general it can be a lengthy and expensive process not seeing an easy way to find out on their website and looking at this friggin mess Oh Fairtrade for business programs why partner with how to how to partner with here's I found an article on the America Fairtrade america.org website how to get Fairtrade certified.
Okay, so I found a website which is called fair trade standards, which is about how they do it and it looks like there's different ones depending on if it's small scale producers hired labor organizations, etc. excetera and then they also have a brand which has fair trade sourced ingredients. So it's when only one or two of the ingredients within the product a fair trade. So the whole product night might not be classed as fair trade. But like it still has some Fairtrade ingredients. I can't say an easy list.
Okay. And this might be where it gets a bit different between this Fairtrade Foundation, the UK website and then Fairtrade America because like I said before, they have over 6000 products but on the Fair Trade America website is says they have over 35,000 products they have the Fair Trade Mark. And that's that's two words Fair Trade Mark. Each one's capitalized. So that sounds like it's a slightly separate thing. And it says that these products this label shows that each product meets our rigorous environmental, economic and social standards and was audited by flocert an accredited third party auditor, so they have someone else do the like auditing and certification, apparently. Yeah, and this looks like I think the fair trade.
The Fair Trade standard was like a different website which is like more international Yeah, and it looks Fair Trade International and then it looks like different products have different
is it still have that recruitment? Does it have the blue and green circle person? Yeah, it still has that. And then the with the little r at the top that like the trademark but what does that mean again? So I'm not TM for trademark, but Oh, US it is the Armenia US Patent and Trademark Office. So yeah, they're all related. Don't really, yeah, somehow.
Okay, so basically, it's a little bit complicated to find now. Well, or well, maybe not complicated, but needing more than like five minutes of research to understand what all the standards are, which I'm going to take as a good thing, because it's probably a good thing that they you know, looking at there's like, there's no just looking the key issue is a look at child labor, climate change, decent livelihood, so like price, environment, force, labor, gender equality, human rights, the Sustainable Development Goals, workers rights and something called HR Edd, I've no idea what that is. Read her read.
I think that is a good sign when a company like us who does you know, these logos, he stamps or approvals the bunny, or the fairtrade, whatever it is, that they have high standards so that when you see that mark on like a product, you can trust it.
Yeah. And yeah, that was definitely that thing, having the the Fair Trade source ingredients, I think is a good one. Because I do remember, criticism about how many like, what kind of percentage of the ingredients need to be fair trade for a product to be called fair trade. And I feel like there's a similar similar debate within organic products as well. Like how much need to be for you to like have that mark. So having like, Fairtrade, like sourced ingredients, I think it was, is also interesting, because it's like, acknowledging that not everything in the product has that has been given that label, although, as you said before, Brandy, that that doesn't necessarily mean that they're not.
Yeah, trade. Yeah, like that, that an item will break down. Yeah, like sourced ingredients, instead of not saying anything. Yeah. Because yeah, as we, you know, explore the gray area and get more comfortable and it doesn't have to be all or nothing. So the I think it's great to whether it's a product with sugar, and hey, look, our sugars sourced, you know, I mean, I will trade organization, but maybe other other ingredients aren't. And maybe they're less important ingredients. But like if something has cocoa and sugar, and you've decided those are important to you, then yeah, that would be good to know. Yeah, I have often seen that. Like, if you look on the back of like a list of ingredients, and if you see like a bunch of different symbols, it's likely because they're trying to tell you which ones are organic or sustainably sourced. Yeah. So yeah, good places to start are to just do a little bit of research on these certifications and logos. Take a look at the products in your kitchen and see oh, yeah, okay, I have bought something with a Fairtrade stamp me out. And then next time we go grocery shopping, just maybe just start to look at prices and see if it's something you're willing to make a little bit more room for in your budget. Clothing to that, but I think require a bit more research and buying from companies online. That tends to be I've seen more like kind of Fairtrade and like organic, like the gods like organic cotton, etc. In smaller companies and online. I don't know how much I've seen it in stores. You know, see if something's claiming like organic, this organic that just take a look at the label and see if it has any, anything to back it up. Unless it's like a local boutique. That would be a great alternative. Yeah. And, and yeah, just
take a look at the fairtrade website, to the event in the UK, even if you're not based in the UK, because they do have a lot of good information and just kind of the stories so you can connect a bit more with buy the product from Yeah, absolutely. And yeah, that is no. Do you buy Fairtrade? Is that something you're interested in? What products do you notice a fair trade?
And what are you going to start with?
Yes, it is up on our Instagram. What's our Instagram Brandee?
At the tea on sustainable living.
Yeah, or you can message us on our website, too. Got the show notes. We'll have all the links there. And did I hit all the promotional points? Brandee,
you did thank you very much. And I often forget will be the show notes will be the T on sustainable living.com/episode Eight, the number eight. And that should take you there and leave all the links and yeah, I really like that the Fair Trade websites, there's a lot of good information even just to educate yourself on why it's important to buy fairtrade coffee, for example, or tea or whatever it is. So yeah, thank you very much for listening. If you've made it to the end, we appreciate it very much. And then the next one. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of the tea on sustainable living podcast.
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Alright, Give-a-Shitters, tea you later. Get it? Tea you later? As in, see you later? So punny.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai