Fair Trade Futures – Exploring Ethical Trade 2.0 – 7th November, Oxford

456906620I’ve explored some of the possibilities connected to digital media and Fair Trade on this blog before, but never had chance to get into really good dialogue about the potential and challenges of digitally enabled Fair Trade Futures. So I’m delighted that in 10 or so days time we’ll be devoting at least one session, and hopefully more time with the Open Space discussions in the afternoon, to the topic at the Fair Trade Futures conference in Oxford.

If you’re interested in how the Internet and digital media can be used to…

  • Bring greater transparency to Fair Trade supply chains;
  • Create stronger links between consumers and producers;
  • Support Fair Trade campaigning at a local and national level;

… and you could make it to Oxford on the 7th November – then register for Fair Trade Futures and come to join the discussion. The session on Fair Trade 2.0 I’m convening kicks off around 11, and we’ll hopefully dig deeper into Fair Trade 2.0 in Open Space discussions in the afternoon.

Also at the conference will be themes exploring government’s role in promoting a sustainable textiles industry, speakers from Fair Trade Research and from Fair Trade Businesses, and a Keynote from People Tree founder Safia Miney.

All socially-reported and Amplified by the great Amplified team so even if you can’t make it on the day – you can still get a flavour of the discussions afterwards.

Ask for Fairtrade (a twitter experiment)

Update: @askforfairtrade now has it’s own blog over here…

Have you asked for the Fairtrade option in a coffee shop that advertise it as an extra and been met by a bemused look from the person serving, been told that it’s out of stock, or simply been told they don’t sell Fairtrade coffee, in spite of the big Fairtrade logo on their menu?

I have. Quite a lot of times. And it’s really frustrating.

So, this morning I set up an @askforfairtrade account on Twitter to start finding our who the worst offenders are.

If you’re a regular coffee-shop hopper and you’re amongst the twitterati, then follow askforfairtrade, and when you’re next getting a caffine fix, make sure you request the Fairtrade option. Report the response you get by tweeting an update to @askforfairtrade.

I’ll aim to collate the reports on a regular basis and will get in touch with the best and the worst of the coffee chains to let them know how they are doing and to put the pressure on to keep Fairtrade on the menu.

Why does this matter?
Fairtrade matters. When a mug of coffee with the Fairtrade Mark is sold in place of a bog standard brew the farmers of the coffee beans are getting a guaranteed price for their labour, and a social premium is being invested in health, education and infrastructure projects in producer communities. Asking for the Fairtrade option makes a tangible difference. (Read more about the different Fairtrade makes on the Fairtrade Foundation Website)

Big companies are actively misleading consumers, giving the impression that their coffee is ethically produced and certified to Fairtrade standards, when in fact, Fairtrade is only available as an optional extra, and no effort is taken to actively encourage customers to ask for Fairtrade. In fact, from my experience, the level of service when trying to ask for the Fairtrade option actively discourages it.

By collecting reports of whether or not coffee shops and chains are living up to their promise to provide a Fairtrade option we can put pressure on them to make sure staff are trained, and products are in stock, for choosing the Fairtrade option to be the easy option. And we can demonstrate the consumer demand for Fairtrade as standard.