Where it all began…
The first journey of our European Fair Train takes us to the motherland of Fair Trade in Europe: the United Kingdom. The earliest traces of Fair Trade in Europe date from the late 1950s when the British NGO Oxfam UK started to sell crafts made by Chinese refugees in Oxfam shops. Oxfam’s “Helping-by-Selling” program was created to support the work of cooperatives and community enterprises in the developing world. The trading relationships were based on partnership, dialogue, transparency and respect with the goal of greater equity in international trade. The scheme was highly successful: It remained one of the largest and most influential in the sector.
Up until today, the UK has remained to be a pioneering country on Fair Trade and has one of the most developed consumer markets for Fair Trade products. Together with the Netherlands, the UK is the country in our network with the highest number of WFTO-Europe members – with 16 members in total and 11 of them being guaranteed.
Our guaranteed members from the UK
The variety of products and services of our British members could hardly be any wider. From fair fashion, over eco-holidays in Sri Lanka to sustainable handwoven coffins – our British members represent the diversity of fair enterprises and prove that Fair Trade innovates. Click on the icons in the map above to read more about our British members.
British Association for Fair Trade Shops and Suppliers (BAFTS)
BAFTS is an association of members who, although independent, unite in a core purpose which is to bring about fundamental changes in the status of developing world producers through Fair Trade retailing and campaigning. The association seeks to create a vibrant network of members to be better able to contribute towards the building of greater justice and equity in the world.
BAFTS’s event highlight of the year is just around the corner with their annual conference coming up on 19th & 20th May. Hosted at the inspirational Bridge 5 Mill venue in Manchester, they have some great speakers lined up, as well as stalls from BAFTS suppliers, delicious food and much more. Interested? Click here.
Fair Trade Scotland Limited
Fair Trade Scotland is our only guaranteed Scottish member so far. They work with Villageworks in Cambodia to import and distribute artisan made clothing and bags of highest quality. Among other products, Fair Trade Scotland has developed an exclusive range of WFTO Fair Trade Tartan products that secures both equality and equity within the WFTO Guaranteed Fair Trade supply chain.
Fair Trade Scotland’s newest initiative FIRST 500 offers 500 Social Innovators a ‘special package’ to join Fair Trade Scotland on the exciting journey to support Mzuzu Coffee farmers in Malawi, through trade not aid. Read more.
Ecoffins is the premier manufacturer and supplier of eco-friendly coffins and urns in the UK. Their products are made to the highest possible standards of quality and ethical production. A guaranteed member of WFTO for 10 years, their care for fair treatment is also reflected in the fact that Ecoffins has attained “Investors in People Gold” Standard in the UK.
People Tree is one of our oldest members and a pioneer in the fair fashion industry. They are the first international clothing company to be awarded the WFTO Fair Trade product label. People Tree’s products are made to the highest Fair Trade and environmental standards from start to finish and consistently prove that it is possible to wear stylish, exciting and affordable fashion, at the same time as respecting people and planet.
Shared Interest Society Limited was launched in 1990 when it was found that the main challenge faced by fair trade producers was access to working capital. They now form the link between UK social investors and fair trade organisations needing finance to improve their livelihoods. Shared Interest provides loans and credit services to businesses that range from sole trader handcraft organisations to large scale coffee co-operatives and fair trade buyers.
They also host regular events in different cities around the UK to inform about Shared Interest and its impact, and introduce guest speakers from the Fair Trade movement. Find out more on their Facebook page.
Island Spirit offers unforgettable holidays to exotic places, while still respecting local people and the environment. They aim to give inspiring and fulfilling experiences through connecting guests with nature and engaging with local communities.
10% of the proceeds from each “Escape” go back to community and environmental initiatives.
Traidcraft & Traidcraft Exchange
Traidcraft is the UK’s leading Fair Trade organisation, dedicated to fighting poverty through trade. Their trading company, Traidcraft plc, sources products from farmers, growers and artisans across the world. At the heart of Traidcraft are the relationships they develop with their trading partners, helping them to develop skills and build sustainable livelihoods through trade. This is also reflected in their charity, Traidcraft Exchange, the only international development charity in the UK to focus on trade.
Traidcraft Exchange exists to do two things: To support people to harness the benefits of trade and to fight against injustice in global trade. It is a simple mission, but can change lives all over the world. To achieve these aims, Traidcraft Exchange implements programmes in developing countries, campaigns to transform the way trade works and advocates for better trade policies and better business practices in the UK.
The “Who picked my tea?” campaign as part of the Trade Fair Live Fair project is only one of Traidcraft’s successful lobbying activities. Around the UK, the campaign called people to challenge the six biggest tea brands by asking them: ‘Who picked my tea?’. Tea from Assam in India is a key ingredient in many popular British blends. But while picking tea for the UK’s biggest brands, workers on the tea estates are trapped in poverty. As the campaigning voices have been growing, the brands have responded and now all of them have published their supplier lists. Find the lists and more information on the campaign here.
Another current campaign deals with the challenge of keeping up Fair Trade practices after Britain’s exit from the European Union. Brexit is likely to cause big changes for millions of people who trade with the UK from poor countries. They could find themselves squeezed even harder by powerful international competition. This is why Traidcraft, the Fairtrade Foundation and others are calling on the government to make sure Brexit works for people who trade with us from the
poorest countries. Read more.
Shared Earth (UK) Ltd is an importer of Fair Trade, eco and ethical products from around the world, specialising in sustainable and recycled products. Most of its suppliers are WFTO members. Shared Earth started in 1986 and is run by Jeremy Piercy, whose book ‘Coffins, Cats and Fair Trade Sex Toys’ includes profiles of many WFTO members and gives a broad history of the Fair Trade movement from the inside. Worth a read!
The Re-wrap Association equips economically disadvantaged women in India with sewing skills, enabling them to survive with dignity and self-respect. They make reusable and recyclable cotton bags that adhere to the Fair Trade principles whilst reducing waste to a minimum. At the heart of Re-wrap is a belief that we should recycle as much as we can. This is why they use fabric off cuts to strengthen the base of their products and the waste cotton is weaved into tape for the handles. From sowing organic cotton seeds to hand sewing the beautiful products – Re-wrap shows that they put people and planet first.
The Fair Trade Furniture
The Fair Trade Furniture was set out around 2002 to create a new business that would take the principles of Fair Trade and apply them in an original way to the furniture market. Their core idea was to create a ‘feelgood chair’ that would allow the customer to feel good in body, mind and spirit. By teaming up with Swedish designer Tord Kjellstrom they created a completely new collection of furniture designed for use in garden rooms and light living spaces. The collection now comprises five unique chair designs, and each chair has a range of matching furniture comprising sofas, tables, footstools and accessories.
Provisional members from the UK:
What’s up next?
Fairtrade Fortnight – the biggest celebration of Fair Trade in the UK – is barely over, but the next event is already around the corner: Fashion Revolution Week 2019 is coming up with some exciting events within the UK and campaigning around the globe. The campaign is organised by Fashion Revolution, who are based in the UK advocating for fairer working conditions in the garment industry around the world. If you want to get involved and support Fashion Revolution’s campaign #WhoMadeMyClothes, click here.