Higher Education Funding Council for England

Why do we value Fairtrade?

Monday 09-03-2015 - 11:21

One of the biggest challenges with promoting Fairtrade on our campuses is ensuring that students know exactly what it is.

We all recognise the logo, and know that it’s a “good thing to do”. But what does it actually mean? And why should we support it?

At the University of Bedfordshire Students’ Union, the Bedfordshire Green Hub has been getting Fairtrade out and about on campus this Fairtrade Fortnight, helping students to understand its reach and impact.

What better way to do that than letting them try the food and drink for themselves?

Over the last week, a pop up shop has been active on both of the institution’s campuses, offering Fairtrade smoothies, sundaes and other delicious treats. There were even Fairtrade wine and cheese nights as well.

“Students seemed to be surprised by some of the range of products, from nuts to notebooks to purses to cereal bars”, explains Bedfordshire Green Hub Administrator Cam Hiscock.

Too often it’s easy to think of Fairtrade as just being a guilt-free cup of coffee, but it’s something which can actually guide a massive range of purchasing decisions.

Of course, it’s not just about the quality of the products. It’s about the principle behind the business, the values it promotes, and the real difference it makes to communities around the world.

The Fairtrade minimum price guarantees workers at least the market price for their produce, and the Fairtrade premium is what they earn above the minimum price through the sale of their goods.

This has a very real life impact for communities around the world – promoting equality, access to education, and providing even the most fundamental needs like access to safe drinking water.

That’s why the University of Bedfordshire Students’ Union has been asking to make new commitments to Fairtrade this Fairtrade Fortnight. “The most common pledges were to swap to fair trade bananas, sugar, coffee, tea and chocolate” explains Cam.

“But we also had really positive ones such as ‘continuing to buy Fairtrade’ or ‘promote Fairtrade to my friends and family’ which we took as a sign that the event had a very positive effect on some people!”

Thousands of students already understand the power and value of Fairtrade, but thanks to action like this, more and more are making increasingly positive choices with their purchasing power. It reflects our core values as a student movement, and we should be proud to support it.

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