As Fairtrade Fortnight hits Scotland, Kirstin Innes looks ahead at the best of the events
Hey! You there! Traipsing about in your fashionable budget high street coat, sipping at your chainstore coffee! This is your conscience calling!
Since 1996, the ever-expanding, UK-wide Fairtrade Fortnight has been nagging Scotland’s consumers to put a little more thought into their purchases. And quite right too. With all of Scotland’s cities achieving Fair Trade City status, the campaign is on to earn us that Fair Trade Nation badge.
‘The aims behind the Fortnight are to engage consumers in a really positive and inspiring way – just to give them the choice!’ says Tania Pramschufer of Handup, an ethical publishing and events company who help co-ordinate Scotland’s Fairtrade Fortnight contribution. ‘We want to say: “This is Fairtrade, here are the people, here are the products, here are the people behind the products”, and we hope that people leave our events richer than when they came in terms of knowledge and information.
‘It’s such a positive and an easy thing to do, too,’ she enthuses. ‘You support the movement just by switching your chocolate or your coffee or your sugar.’
Last year, there were 10,000 events throughout the UK alone – everything from small scale local coffee mornings and wine tastings using Fairtrade-marked products to comedy nights, awareness-raising gigs and London’s full-on Fairtrade Fairground. The biggest was Pramschufer’s own project, the Fairtrade Experience, a weekend-long festival which filled Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall with ethical markets, world music gigs, talks and debates.
‘The Fairtrade Experience is a platform for Fairtrade producers from developing countries – we bring them over and they talk directly to and thank Scottish consumers – and it’s also a way for Scottish consumers to be able to hear a bit more firsthand about Fairtrade. On top of that, we have a market: over 40 fair trading businesses from around the world have stalls there this year – everything from Fairtrade food and drink, fashion, jewellery and kids stuff.’
The keynote speaker for the weekend will be Kenyan Fairtrade tea producer Julius Ethang’atha. In expanding the movement’s profile, Pramschufer wants people to realise that Fairtrade doesn’t just mean ethically-produced tea and coffee. These days, over 2000 products from almost 60 developing countries bear the Fairtrade mark. Marks & Spencer and Topshop both run Fairtrade lines, and Debenhams is about to launch one.
‘Fairtrade is important, because as individuals we should be taking on responsibility for the way we consume,’ says Pramschufer. ‘By consuming even a little bit more thoughtfully we can make a very positive impact on people in developing countries, and it’s about showing that respect.’
Fairtrade Fortnight 2008, Mon 25 Feb-Sun 9 Mar. www.fairtrade.org.uk. Fair Trade Experience, Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, Sat 1–Sun 2 Mar. www.handupmedia.co.uk