Since 2004 Oxford has been a fairtrade city thanks to the work of the Oxford Fairtrade coalition. Their idea is to promote the fairtrade philosophy all around the town. Oxford has successfully achieved the 5 goals defined by the Fairtrade Foundation (you can find the details of each goal here). Thanks to their work, the city council is involved in promoting fairtrade products all around the city. In Oxford, you can also find fairtrade shops such as Fairtrade at St. Micheals or Headington Fairtrade in Oxford.

What is Fairtrade?

2000px-FairTrade-Logo.svg_It is based on a simple idea: creating an economic model fairer to the producer. It is  another way of doing business, a more sustainable one. The company is not only concerned about the economic part of its business, but also about the social and the environmental impact of its products. It is based on the sustainable development concept.

Nowadays, with the globalization, we know that the supply chain of a firm is more and more complex. Firms tend to have many different production sites and subcontractors, which has created incidents. We all have heard about the appalling accident in Bangladesh in 2013 at the Rana Plaza. This event has alarmed consumers, but also governments and companies. The G7, in 2015, all agreed about the importance of improving the work conditions throughout the supply chain and implementing some due diligence procedures (you can find some more details about the G7 commitments here). In the UK, the Modern Slavery Act, requires companies to report their actions in order to prevent modern slavery in their supply chain and to increase transparency (you can find more information about it here).

Fairtrade is also a way to make consumers aware of the real cost of the product they buy: What does a cheap price really mean? Where does this product come from? Who produced it?  Fairtrade showed us that another way of consumption is possible in every industry. Usually we know some fairtrade products, the ones that we can easily find in some supermarkets like coffee, tea, chocolate and bananas.
Fairtrade also means that as a consumer, we have the power to choose what kind of product we want, we can choose to buy a product that aligns with our values…
To be fairtrade, companies have to respect 10 Fairtrade principles defined by the World Fairtrade Organization :
  • Creating Opportunities for Economically Disadvantaged Producers
  • Transparency and Accountability
  • Fair Trading Practices
  • Fair Payment
  • Ensuring no Child Labour and Forced Labour
  • Commitment to Non Discrimination, Gender Equity and Women’s Economic Empowerment, and Freedom of Association
  • Ensuring Good Working Conditions
  • Providing Capacity Building
  • Promoting Fair Trade
  • Respect for the Environment

Focus on the fashion industry:

« The clothing industry is the 2nd largest in the world. The fashion industry could actually be used to galvanise livelihoods amongst the most rural and economical marginalised population in the world » Safia Minney

57d154151600004425c0166fI went to a conference in Oxford organized by the Oxford Fairtrade coalition where I listened to Safia Minney‘s presentations. She is the founder of People Tree, established in 1991, a pioneering sustainable and fairtrade fashion company. Safia Minney, who received the MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) is recognised by the World Economic Foundation, Schwab Foundation, as one of the world’s outstanding social entrepreneurs.

She showed us that business can also be ethic and sustainable throughout its supply chain. She is committed to create a more sustainable fashion industry by developing the first organic and fairtrade clothing supply chain. Now, she is also a managing director of a fairtrade company which manufactures fairtrade shoes, Po-zu. In the meantime, she campaigns to raise awareness of  modern slavery in the fashion industry via a book « Slave to fashion »

Here is the trailer of the True cost, a documentary about the fashion industry in the world:


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