This tee is organic, Fair Wear and donates to eco/animal charities
We have all heard of Fair Trade, used more for tea, coffee and chocolate. Most big chains subscribe to the Ethical Trading Initiative (which is a bit like ‘sustainable palm oil’). It has good intentions, but little legal clout, other than ensuring no child labour. The UN says that companies that employ younger people with good conditions and pay, are often better than those who offer terrible conditions, but ban child labour. This is because some families depend on children working to feed the family. And if children can’t visit school, working in ethical places where they are treated well, can sometimes be a way to claw themselves out of poverty.
It’s not a simple answer. When India prevented all child labour, families needing money turned to informal child employment, which meant worse conditions. So look at companies that ensure proper working conditions/pay and no child labour. Most of the big companies say ‘no child labour’, but don’t pay a living wage.
What’s far better is to look for Fair Wear (much stricter rules from farmer to store) and B-Corporation (a far more stringent organisation for ethics that no high street chain would pass its rules to enter).
Good On You is a good website to bookmark, if you are out and about on the high street. Just look up any brand and it gives you a lowdown on the company’s ethics. This covers Fair Trade, animal welfare, environment etc. Try typing in ‘People Tree’ and ‘Primark’, then read the difference. What’s surprising is that one of the worst is Next, which is not the cheapest. It’s not an ‘ethical brand’, but if you are looking for the best high street choice, Marks & Spencer presently comes out top (avoid animal fabrics, buy goods to last and scour the rack for sale bargains).
Most of the main chains (Primark, Next, River Island, Matalan) are rated ‘not good enough’ for environmentalism and animal welfare. M & S is rated ‘it’s a start’. So is TopShop (for animal welfare as they have banned some materials, but still sell others – they are still rated ‘not good enough’ for labour practices).
Concern also has been raised over the safety of people who make most of the clothes for the UK fashion chains, mostly in Bangladesh (several fires have broken out, killing workers who were trapped). Since then, there have been mumblings about better conditions, but investigations have still found issues.
You’ll find nearly all the main fashion brands now say they are part of the Ethical Trading Initiative. This is a bit like the ’round table on sustainable palm oil’, in that it’s just a self-policed body that tries to ensure safety and wellbeing of workers, but does not have much clout, and comes nowhere near the wants of Good on You (like a living wage). It’s a start, but the main chains make profit by having people in the far east make their clothes for tiny amounts, so they are never going to offer the same welfare as smaller brands with direct links.
The World’s First Fair Trade Spirits
Fair Drinks is the world’s first Fair Trade spirits brand. These drinks enable farmers to cover their production costs, live from farming, educate their children and build schools. This company ensure that producers have around 200 ethical needs met, to support farmers in developing economies. This includes people farming in Bolivia, Uzbekistan, Malawi (one of the poorest nations on earth), Paraguay and Belize.
Tonic waters contain quinine, so avoid serving them if pregnant or you have an abnormal heart rhythm, kidney or liver disease or low blood sugar. Avoid grapefruit slices for certain medical conditions, and avoid rhubarb tonic waters for stomach/kidney issues.
All these spirits are distilled with the highest quality standards in France, thanks to hundreds of years of experience from the Cognac region. All the spirits are organic, gluten-free, vegan, and packed in beautiful glass bottles. Choose from:
- Quinoa Vodka is made from a superfood that has been farmed for over 5000 years by the Incas, where it grows in volcanic soils of the high Andes mountains. Serve with a squeeze of half a time, ginger beer and ice cubes, garnish with lime and ginger.
- Kumquat Vodka is made with a vitamin-C rich superfruit that is grown in southeast Asia. With less sugar than Triple Sec and less alcohol than Cointreau, serve with tequila (less likely to have a worm in the bottle than Mezcal), lime juice and garnished with a rosemary sprig.
- Fair Coffee Liqueur tastes like an Italian espresso, made with Arabica beans from Mexico. Serve with vodka and a shot of espresso, then serve over ice.
- Belize Rum is a unique sipping rum, with unique roots and terroir, aged for years in Belize, South Mexico and East of Guatemala. Serve with brown sugar and water or club soda, with ice, garnish with orange and lemon twists. Garnish with lemon and orange twists.
- Fair Gin has a refined lemon flavour, distilled with organic juniper berries, angelica root, cardamom, coriander and timut pepper. Serve with Luxardo (vegan alternative to Campari), sweet vermouth, and garnish with orange zest.
Choose Fair Trade Quinoa
Quinoa Vegetable Soup (Crowded Kitchen) is an ideal winter soup, packed with vegetables and high-protein quinoa. Serve alone or with bread.
Quinoa is one of the world’s healthiest foods, and often used as an alternative to rice. It’s a natural superfood that’s high in protein and calcium, although you do have to rinse off the bitter coating, before you cook it. Grown in the Andes area of South America, the issue is that its popularity means people are becoming exploited, in order to make profits. So always buy Fair Trade. You can even buy quinoa grown in the UK now, if you prefer.
Naturally gluten-free, quinoa is related to beets and spinach, and there are over 200 varieties. The mild taste is ideal in casseroles and savoury dishes, and also popular in porridge. You can also blend it up to make quinoa flour, for vegan baked goods.
Biofair is a brand of organic Fair Trade pantry staples, like pasta, rice and quinoa. This helps to support farmers in developing countries, and the planet too. Consumers get premium goods that are organically grown and ethically sourced.
Earth Friends: Fair Fashion is about Maya, whose research on a school project about Fair Trade has been a real eye-opener. She loves clothes and is appalled to find her favourite sparkly t-shirts are made by children in other countries, who lead very different lives from her own. She knows she must do something about it, but how can make a difference, without revealing her pop star secret to the world?