What makes a product ‘fair’? What makes an organisation ‘ethical’?

Good questions don’t you agree? These are questions which I have been asked a lot recently and with good reason given I am helping to organise an ethical Christmas market!

Honestly, this is a very sticky area and there are so many conundrums for the wannabe ethical shopper to think through……Fair trade from the other side of the planet or buy local and support England’s diminishing farming industry? Buy Organic but not Fair Trade or Fair Trade but not Organic?  Wonderfully cheap and cheerful clothes that are made from unsustainable materials/in poor conditions or good quality glad rags made by fairly paid staff, yet super expensive?

The list goes on and on and on and quite honestly it just makes your brain ache, hence a lot of people decide just not to think about it as it makes life a lot easier.  I was one of those for a very long time I will very readily admit.  It takes a great deal of energy and thought to comprehend, particularly as we now live in this globalised world in which everything is so interconnected and thus it is hard to trace back the direct effects of any action.

However, in organising this fayre I am inspired and encouraged to find that there are many others out there who can and are mustering the motivation and courage to explore this and there are even many people out there trying to trade as ethically as they can – hooray!

There is a an incredible amount of stuff to unravel around ‘fair’ business practices and I don’t pretend to have all of the answers by any means. Here at Fair Christmas Fayre we are always learning new things which might change what we buy or how we act and we will share with you our exploration of this.   Our ideas will continue to evolve with yours and we would love to hear your comments.  Over the coming weeks we will be exploring some of the organisations/products that we feel meet our ‘ethical’ criteria which the ‘fair shopper’ should be aware of.fcf14

In any case we want shoppers to have an alternative to just the large shops on the high street and are proud to provide a platform for those organisations who want to trade from a genuine place of integrity, ethics and are operating with respect, love and care for other people and the planet.  We believe that means:

Treat your people well: Goods are made ethically paying workers a fair wage and in safe conditions.  This could be through practices such as Fair trade.

Treat your planet well:  We have finite resources and so it is important to use sustainable materials, or recycled/upcycled materials if possible.  The production of materials is also important, ensuring this has minimal environmental impact such as organic farming

Share the love: We love social enterprises (mixing business and ethics) and organisations that sell goods or services to support charitable/community projects.  There is a lot of value in greater sharing of resources and wealth to ensure those who need support get it, and by this I don’t just mean sharing financial wealth but our wealth includes our other resources such as time, skills, knowledge, ideas and creativity.

This list is by no means comprehensive and is just a start….we look forward to challenging this and seeing it evolve.

Renee Berkhout, Organiser Fair Christmas Fayre 2014

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