It’s Fairtrade Fortnight! From the 21st of February until the 6th March, Fairtrade towns across the UK are hosting events and raising awareness to promote Fairtrade. 


In Reigate, which received its Fairtrade Community status in October 2020, it's no different. I spoke to Ann Dale, a member of the Fairtrade Reigate team, to find out why Fairtrade is so important and how we can all get involved this Fairtrade Fortnight. 


Ann was inspired to get involved with Fairtrade following her experiences when working for VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) in the 1970s: “When the Fairtrade movement began to develop in the UK I felt I ‘knew’ the producers they were talking about – I had met and lived near them in Zambia. They were examples of the type of families and communities who would benefit from the Fairtrade premium and what the Fairtrade movement was trying to achieve.”


She went on to explain that Fairtrade “makes sure that [the workers] are paid a fair wage, that the bills are paid ‘up front’, and that communities are not left to manage when ‘disaster strikes’. Fair is the most important word in the contract. Too often we take for granted the food that is put before us. If we thought more about where things come from and who was involved in their manufacture we may make different purchases.”


At home in Reigate, it can be all too easy to feel detached from the wider world but Ann proves that helping those who produce our food doesn’t have to be difficult: “Looking for the Fairtrade mark on goods ensures that they are fair for the producer, the climate, and ethical and sustainable.” Buying products with the blue, green and black fairtrade logo (most commonly found on bananas, coffee and chocolate) is a small change to an online order for many of us but “the difference between a fair wage or a low wage” for farmers, such as those in Ghana or the Ivory Coast. 


So this Fairtrade Fortnight, it is so important to stop and consider where your shopping comes from. Over the two weeks, there is plenty going on, as Ann says, to jolt “the normal routines and be reminded of what Fairtrade can do for others” as well as “have some fun!” There was certainly fun at Reigate’s Fairtrade trail last Saturday, with a giant teddy bear, free chocolate and a life-sized banana costume.


So while it is easy to feel that making ethical purchases is demanding and difficult, Ann reminds us that by buying Fairtrade, we can be confident that “clothes are not made in sweatshops, furniture is crafted in good workshops, and gold is mined in good working conditions.” 


“Such purchases can be fair.”