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Celebrate Fair Trade in May

Posted by Angela Crocombe on

The merry month of May is upon us and it’s a great time of year to celebrate all the amazing things that are happening to increase awareness of fair trade and improve the lives of those less fortunate around the world.

From May 3-18 it’s the yearly event known as Fair Trade Fortnight, a time of year to celebrate fairly traded products and make people more aware about the problem of sweatshops and the use of slave labour. In Melbourne, Moral Fairground, run by the tireless energies of Susanna Bevilacqua and her enthusiastic band of volunteers, is working to promote the importance of supporting fair trade products all year round. But over the next two weeks, she has planned plenty to inspire and celebrate. If you are in Melbourne, there is a Fair Trade Mothers’ Day High Tea, where you can not only spoil your mum but also hear from inspiring women, including Jennifer Evans (2012 My Kitchen Rules winner) and Melanie Raymond, one of the 100 most influential women in Australia. If that doesn’t float your boat, during Fair Trade Fortnight you could visit a fair trade fashion show, go to a free yoga class at Fed Square, enjoy a market filled with groovy fair trade products, or take your kids to some fun and free craft workshops. Check out all these events and more at:http://moralfairground.com.au/event/the-fair-trade-event-trail-event/

If you’re not in Melbourne, don’t worry. There are events happening all over Australia to celebrate Fair Trade Fortnight, including markets, movie nights, fashion shows and more. Find events in your state here: http://www.fta.org.au/fair-trade-fortnight-2014.html

There are plenty of amazing organisations helping those less fortunate every day of the year. For example, the Global Poverty Project has made a commitment to ending the injustice of extreme poverty by 2030 and has already garnered the support of the leader of the World Bank, along with hundreds of thousands others. Right now, you can join the Live Below the Line campaign and try to eat on $2 a day between May 5th – 9th to show your solidarity with people who experience extreme poverty as an everyday reality. Or, if that sounds too difficult (two minute noodles not your thing?) you can sponsor some people who have chosen to do it. Money raised will go to support education programs for thousands of children in Cambodia, Papua New Guinea and East Timor. Check it out here: www.livebelowtheline.com.au

We know that exploitation occurs both overseas and in our own backyard and another powerful way to support companies doing the right thing is to make more ethical choices in our everyday food and basics shopping. Of course, buying fairly traded cocoa or coffee is a no-brainer, but your fruit and vegetables, your toilet paper and household products are all areas where we can make more ethical choices with every dollar we spend. If you are in Melbourne, Ceres Fair Food (www.ceresfairfood.org.au) is a non-profit organisation that sells organic fruit and vegetable boxes, as well as a range of other foods, which have been purchased from local farmers at sustainable prices. They also employ new migrants and give them valuable job training. These guys truly are amazing and the food is so fresh, its like its just fallen off the tree!

If you want the lowdown on the evil duopoly that attempts to control our grocery shopping (also known as Coles and Woolworths) then look no further than the Shop Ethical guide, recently updated for 2014 and containing all the basics you need to make the most ethical choice with basic products – and how to avoid the supermarket completely! Check out where you can get it at www.ethical.org.au.

On a more sobering note, it was sad to hear recently that Tony Abbott has cut the funding for Ethical Clothing Australia, which helped ensure that Australian outworkers received a decent minimum wage and benefits. Outworkers are a hidden part of Australia’s textile industry – usually women, sometimes with little English, who are paid a ‘piece rate’ for sewing clothes. They are vulnerable to exploitation and were often paid as little as $3 per hour prior to the establishment of ECA in 1996. It is feared that this may happen again without an industry body to protect these hidden garment workers. Keep an eye out for further developments on this issue.

Finally, enjoy the merry month of May by practising gratitude for all the good things that you already have in your life and looking at new ways to make a difference in this wonderful world of ours.