Take a Step for Fairtrade in 2012

By staff writers
January 3, 2012

People are being urged to 'take a step' for fairtrade during 2012.

‘Take a Step’ for Fairtrade is this year’s campaign call to people in the UK to engage with the Fairtrade Foundation’s vision of an even bigger movement for positive change on unfair trade, including making the switch to buying Fairtrade.

The Fairtrade Foundation is challenging the public to take a step in the right direction by thinking about what they can do every day, every week or every month throughout 2012 to make a difference to the lives of farmers in the developing world who produce the products they buy – whether that be choosing to buy a Fairtrade coffee on the way to work, or making sure their weekly shopping baskets contain one or two more Fairtrade products like Fairtrade tea or bananas, or encouraging their friends and family to switch to Fairtrade.

With this theme for 2012, consumers and supporters, commercial partners and retailers, community organisations and faith groups, and schools and universities are all encouraged to tell others about the FAIRTRADE Mark, increase sales of Fairtrade products and campaign on issues of trade justice.

The ‘steps’ campaign is a year-long one with areas of focus for Fairtrade Fortnight (27 February to 11 March), World Fair Trade Day in May, a Summer of Fairtrade activities and an Autumn campaign, expected to be around baking with Fairtrade ingredients.

A step is any action that supports Fairtrade – taking a first step could be someone buying their first packet of Fairtrade coffee, tea or sugar; for someone further along the Fairtrade ‘journey’, their step could be to find out if there is a Fairtrade Town campaign where they live; and for a seasoned Fairtrade campaigner, their step could be to organise a fun public event for Fairtrade Fortnight. Many of the steps that will be taken around the country will involve bake-offs and tea parties using Fairtrade ingredients; tastings of the wide range of Fairtrade foods and drinks; quizzes and competitions on Fairtrade; fashion shows to showcase Fairtrade cotton; large public events that involve talks and films on Fairtrade; and the sharing of news about Fairtrade on Facebook and other social networking sites.

Together, the Fairtrade Foundation wants the public to take 1.5 million steps for Fairtrade in 2012. That’s one for every Fairtrade producer Fairtrade aims to work with around the world. Each step leads to a better deal that millions of farmers and workers in developing countries urgently need. The public will be able to register their own steps on a special online ‘stepometer’.

This year’s theme is based on the concept of a step being the smallest part of the larger journey of Fairtrade that consumers and farmers are on. People at either end of the supply chain – the producers and the consumers – are all on different points of a journey towards a better trade system through Fairtrade. There is still a long way ahead to bring about meaningful change. The campaign call seeks to appeal to the broad range of audiences, by asking new Fairtrade fans to take just a small step towards a fairer world, whilst keeping the Fairtrade stalwarts galvanised by ambitious targets to see how many people in their area they can get to join them in taking steps for Fairtrade.

In a new development from past campaigns, Fairtrade Fortnight in 2012 will kickstart a whole year of Fairtrade activities, aimed at inspiring people not to just think about Fairtrade for the period of Fairtrade Fortnight, but to get them more involved with Fairtrade at different times throughout the year.

"Throughout 2012 the Fairtrade Foundation wants to bring the public a step closer to understanding that by taking a small step, like buying a Fairtrade product, they can help make a big change to the lives of farmers by supporting them to make their own journeys to a better future" said Barbara Crowther, Director of Communications and Policy, Fairtrade Foundation.

As part of the campaign activities for Fairtrade Fortnight, Fairtrade producers, including cocoa farmers from Ghana, will tour UK towns talking to Fairtrade supporter networks. Philemon Allen, a banana farmer from St Vincent in the Eastern Caribbean toured the UK for Fairtrade Fortnight, March 2011, telling groups about how Fairtrade benefits his community.

One year ago in October 2010, Hurricane Tomas struck some of the Windward Islands including his island of St Vincent, devasting homes and flattening the banana crop. Philemon’s farm was destroyed and half the roof ripped from his house. The farmers’ group used a small fund put aside from the Fairtrade premiums for repairs and replanting. Since July 2011, although still not back up to former levels of production, the farmers have begun to export to the UK again.

"Fairtrade is providing an alternative trading system that protects the livelihoods of the producers and by us all making the right choices and taking the right steps we can bring the world together under Fairtrade," Philemon said. "Through the Fairtrade system, farmers’ organisations are more empowered and better organised to face the challenges in production and trade."

The Fairtrade Foundation and its supporters have every confidence that the target of 1.5 million steps is achievable, as Fairtrade is still on trend in terms of the concerns of the UK public.

According to latest TNS figures current awareness of the FAIRTRADE Mark is 77 per cent. Results of a global study of 17,000 consumers carried out for Fairtrade International by international opinion research consultancy GlobeScan, released earlier this month, showed that Fairtrade is the most widely recognised ethical label globally.

Six out of ten consumers in the UK (59 per cent) believe their own shopping choices can make a real difference to the lives of farmers and workers in poorer countries and four out of five (83 per cent) say that they look to companies they deal with to help in reducing poverty through the way they do business.

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