Rainbow Turtle is a social enterprise in Paisley who provide their local community with the opportunity to purchase Fairtrade goods and, in doing so change lives all around the world.
‘You can change the world, providing you have the determination and the clarity of what it is that needs to be changed’. So said Precious Ramotswe, Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Lady Detective, in her characteristic way of bringing gentle wisdom into whatever situation she came across.
When we look around the world there are so many things that we might want to change it can be so overwhelming it becomes paralysing.
For the last 22 years I have been a Fairtrader with Traidcraft – the pioneering organisation that brought ‘Fair Trade’ to our vocabulary, delicious foods to our tables, and craft ware to our homes. Fifteen of those years have seen me helping run a fair trade shop, Rainbow Turtle, in Paisley. A social enterprise that brings together supplier, customer, volunteer and staff – growing, creating buying and selling products that change people’s lives.
I have visited many fair trade projects around the world and have seen people flourishing through the provision of health care and sanitation, receiving a decent income, women gaining recognition and respect, children receiving education, young women freed from the fear of trafficking, and whole communities being uplifted. And all this simply because people like us choose to buy a product with a different label, a label that isn’t about what a bargain we are getting but about justice and dignity for the human faces behind it.
Some years ago I chatted with Chino, a charismatic farmer from Chile who grew blueberries and produced honey. He asserted that the Fair Trade movement should be nominated for the Nobel Peace prize. His reasoning being that, instead of putting things right after a conflict, Fair Trade creates an environment where peace can thrive. People are given purpose, a decent standard of living and security, and these things go a long way to remove the need for violence.
Recently the question that is more often in my head is ‘What are the consequences of not buying Fair Trade?’ How is the world changed when we look for cheap products and those made from non sustainable materials? How many of the things we buy have been made using exploited labour, have messed with people’s physical and mental health and our planet’s future?
It becomes clearer to me each day that injustice in world trade and chasing profits at the expense of humanity are the things that need to change.
The parliamentarian Edmund Burke said “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
This Fairtrade Fortnight we can all do something and participate in changing the world by buying Fairtrade products - especially supporting 100% Fair Trade organisations like Traidcraft, Divine or Cafedirect which go the extra mile, investing their profits back into small holder farmers and producers in the developing world.
And remember Fair Trade is for life – not just for Fairtrade Fortnight!