Why do we choose to manufacture Fair Trade and Ethically?
At Rainbows and Clover we see Fair Trade as our opportunity to make a difference in the world. We believe that one of the best solutions to assisting people out of poverty and powerlessness, is to give them the opportunity and tools to work. We wouldn't want to do it any differently.
Our design process starts right here in Bangalow, northern NSW, in the Byron Bay Hinterland. Our making is done here in Australia, and also Vietnam, Nepal and India.
We are proud to focus on sustainability, ethical employment and manufacturing, and Fair Trade principles.
What is Fair Trade?
Fair trade is about stable prices, decent working conditions and the empowerment of producers and workers around the world.
The simple choice of what toy, tea, chocolate or coffee you buy can mean the difference between life and death for some of the world's poorest people.
By buying Fair Trade products we can ALL make a real difference to producers in developing countries. To these producers, getting a guaranteed fair price for their goods can mean the difference between being able to send their children to school, or putting them on the pathway out of serious poverty.
Buying Fair Trade products is the easiest way for us in the western world to show compassion and solidarity towards Third World producers and manufacturers. There are huge injustices in the world and it's long past time that developed countries had their eyes opened.
Attitudes are certainly changing, which is positive, but it's been happening slowly for a long time ... it's time to speed it up! There's still a huge amount to be done to eradicate poverty, but with all our support, our purchasing power, our combined manufacturing efforts, and our speaking out about what Fair Trade means, what it is and what it does for people, AND educating our friends and families, we CAN make a difference!
Here are ten Fair Trade facts you'll want to know and share with your friends;
- Fair Trade guarantees a fair price to producers (manufacturers and farmers) for their products, covering the cost of production and adding a premium which is invested in social or economic projects.
- There are an estimated one million farmers and workers directly involved in Fair Trade, and millions more who benefit from the investment in communities that comes from the social premium.
- Fair Trade products are available in most supermarkets, whole food stores, boutiques, online, and the opportunities to sell and buy Fair Trade are growing every day.
- The total number of Fair Trade products has risen from around 150 in 2003 to more than 3,500 today.
- Products range from toys & decor to processed foods, flowers and footballs, and the more widely known, coffee, tea and chocolate.
- The UK is the largest of the 21 Fair Trade markets in Europe, North America, Australia, Mexico, New Zealand and Japan. Wouldn't it be awesome if we could make Australia NUMBER ONE!
- Fair Trade means better terms of trade and decent production conditions. The Fair Trade Foundation maintains these standards by inspecting Third World suppliers and checking contracts and trade terms. **Rainbows and Clover manufacturers are NOT members of the foundation, as the cost to join, and ongoing costs, are extremely prohibitive. They welcome inspection any time, and follow the Fair Trade guidelines along with thousands of other producers and manufacturers who believe the money is better going to the workers than to running costs of the various (and many) Fair Trade foundations.
- Fair Trade towns and cities must meet five goals, including; selling products in council offices, shops, restaurants, workplaces and community groups.
- Garstand in Lancashire, UK became the world's first Fair Trade town in 2001. Bangalow in NSW, Australia was awarded the prestigious status of being a Fair Trade town in 2016, due entirely to the hard work of a few (Kylie, owner of Rainbows and Clover is one of these!) to make this happen. Kylie's passion for Fair Trade and ethical manufacturing processes goes far beyond her own manufacturing experiences within Rainbows and Clover. Give her a call if you ever want to chat Fair Trade, sustainability ethical work environments, or re-usable packaging!
- Dublin City Council is hoping to make the Irish capital the first Fair Trade capital city in Europe. Here's hoping that Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Darwin will join the movement soon!
**Fairtrade farmers, producers, manufacturers and marketing organisations incur a wide range of costs in achieving and maintaining Fair Trade certification, which is the reason many thousands of businesses/producers choose NOT to be part of the certification. They incur these costs on all their production, but they can only recover costs on the small part of their production that they can sell as "Fair Trade certified". In practice they can sell only small of their output as Fair Trade, because of lack of demand, and must sell the rest as uncertified at world prices. For example, there is not enough demand to take all the certified coffee produced, so most has to be sold as uncertified. In 2001 only 13.6% could be sold as certified so limits were placed on new co-operatives joining the scheme. This plus an increased demand put up sales of certified to around 50% in 2003 with a figure of 37% commonly cited in recent years. Some exporting Fair Trade co-operatives do not manage to sell ANY of their output as certified, and others sell as little as 8%. Weber reports co-operatives not able to cover the extra costs of a marketing team for Fair Trade, with one covering only 70% of these costs after six years of Fair Trade membership.
Certified Fair Trade organisations (such as co-operatives) have to pay FLO-CERT a fee to become certified and then a further annual fee for audit and continued certification, Fair Trade inspection and certification are also carried out, for a fee. To give you an example of how difficult this can be for many, this info has been provided;
The first year certification fee per unit sold as "Fair Trade certified" varies but has been over 6c/lb with an annual fee of 3c/lb to 3.4c/b for coffee up to 2006 in some countries, at a time when the "Fairtrade premium" was 5c to 10c/lb. This makes it almost impossible for many producers and manufacturers.
The co-operative or other Fair Trade certified organisation has to spend money on conforming to the standards, with changed employment practices, the introduction and administration of the required democratic processes, changed processing, labelling and packing, changed material. They also incur extra costs in selling: Weber reports co-operatives not able to cover the extra costs of a marketing team for FairTrade, with one covering only 70% of these costs after six years of Fairtrade membership.
It is generally agreed that some organisations make a loss from their Fair Trade certification. The motivation for producers to continue as Fair Trade therefore dimishes. And its easy to see why! Fair Trade farmers and producers also have to meet a large range of criteria on production: there are limits on using child labour, pesticides, herbicides, genetically modified products etc. These cost money, mean that the farmers have to do more work in the hot sun, and that they have to hire labour instead of using family labour. In times when world prices are so low that there is no “social premium” and the minimum price is paid, some farmers have negotiated that some of the money is paid to them, rather than being used for social projects.
OK, let's bring it back to the hard facts ... What can WE do?
Us as the designers and manufacturers, and you as the ethically mindful customers, need to teach our friends and families about WHY they need to care about Fair Trade and Ethical manufacturing, and why the way they spend their dollars really count, on a global level, as well as at home.
WE ALL need to think about that $5 t-shirt and how it was made, by whom, in what conditions, and then add on the costs of shipping it to Australia, duties and taxes, getting it into the stores, and when all those costs are added up, what's left for the maker of said t-shirt. Just a few cents ... it's an absolute tragedy, and we are all to blame to some extent! For the past few decades our consumerism has grown to such an extent and fashions' changing so fast (#fastfashion), nobody is mending, everybody is throwing out, not factoring in WHERE does the rubbish go, WHO is making these items for such small amounts, and WHO is being exploited and HOW long are we going to put up with this? YOU are already on the right track! YOU are already purchasing fair trade and ethically, (hey, you're here at the Rainbows and Clover website aren't you!?!) but we need to EDUCATE our friends and families.
This is from the Bangalow Fair Trade facebook page, and it has been a really exciting project to be a part of.
Look out for those logos on the products you buy, OR choose to purchase ethically and mindfully, with producers who follow Fair Trade practices.
Give us a call if you'd like to discuss anything further, this is a favourite topic at Rainbows and Clover HQ, and together we CAN make a difference!