My Personal Fairtrade Fortnight Challenge

my only concessions were recycled toilet paper and free range eggs

my only concessions were recycled toilet paper and free range eggs

This fortnight, I will only be buying fair trade and organic…

Monday saw the start of Fairtrade Fortnight and I decided to set myself the challenge of only buying fairtrade and organic products for two weeks. And I mean only – where there is no fairtrade or organic option, we will do without. (I survived half term with no heating and no hot water – how hard can this be?)

Therefore, at the checkout of my local ASDA store on Monday, I had a trolley full of ethical food and boy, was I proud of it! My only concessions (and I hope you will allow me these) were recycled toilet paper and free range eggs. Going without toilet paper was a step too far and although I believe you can buy organic eggs, I lack the stamina to trail round other stores looking for them.

The checkout assistant couldn’t fail to notice this was a family shop with a difference and a conversation ensued (which was part of the purpose of the challenge). She informed me that her son-in-law was mad about fair trade – yeah! We remarked that although you feel you see quite a few fair trade products as you wander around the store, there were not actually that many. The number I had bought was only ten – bananas, pears, grapes, lemons, rice, sugar, ice cream, chocolate, fruit juice and cereal bars – not exactly a balanced diet.

Quite a disappointment in some ways and it makes me wonder how much the big supermarkets are committed to fair trade and how much of it is tokenism. However, I can still remember the day when CafeDirect first appeared on supermarket shelves in 1994 and how we stood in awe. (Well, I stood in awe while my husband rearranged the shelves to give these jars of fair trade coffee a greater profile.) Then there was the Geobar in 1999….then came Fruit Passion what excitement it was in those days to pass these items through the checkout. We have come such a long way since those early days and fair trade has become so much more mainstream and available.

Anyway, I now have a much clearer idea of what my regular supermarket stocks and can look online or in a different supermarket to see what I can supplement my purchases with. Until then, we will do without crisps and ham and pre-prepared food (which is probably a good thing) and use the children’s protests as a way to initiate conversation about what fair trade actually is – nothing like doing without to focus their attention!

Whether this challenge is only a gimmick or not, it is a gimmick with a cause, so I am going to put aside my negative cynicism for a change and embrace this learning experience. I’ll let you know how it goes….why don’t you give it a go too?

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  • Helen,

    Please keep us posted throughout the Fortnight. You are truly dedicated to the cause and an inspiration. I buy Fairtrade whenever I can, but Im not sure that I could live on Fairtrade alone. Fortunately, it looks like Fairtrade products are continuing to make significant inroads, which should make the same challenge next year a little bit easier.

    Happy Fairtrade Fortnight!

    Patrick