Fair Trade Magazine - Summer/Fall 2017 Edition

Page 1

FREE Summer / Fall 2017


Renewing soils in Ethiopia Flooding in northern Peru Fast fashion and its alternatives




The makers of Crisil from the Cochabamba neighbourhood of the Bolivian highlands blow glassware one piece at a time using material recovered from the landfill. In the workshop, master glass blowers pass down know-how to assistants training to become future masters. Discover the amazing stories behind these and all our products in-store, at a festival sale or online at tenthousandvillages.ca

30% OFF

Promo Code: FTM30



A fair trade retailer since 1946

Limit one per customer. Exclusions: Bunyaad rugs, gift cards and donations. Coupon expires August 31st, 2017. Cannot be combined with other offers. Participating stores only. Product selection may vary between stores.



Disaster in Piura

Facing a dengue epidemic and the aftermath of severe flooding, thousands of producers in Piura, Peru, find support through their fair trade partners.


/ fa ll 2017 |




Regenerating Soils at the Birthplace of Coffee

Soil degradation is a major issue in Ethiopia. Read about how composting can renew soil— and increase yields.

on the cover Flooding in Northern Peru...........................................9 Renewing Soils in Ethiopia....................................... 13 Fast Fashion and Its Alternatives........................... 18

inside Publisher’s Letter.............................................................4 Why Fair Trade?...............................................................7


Finding Alternatives to Fast Fashion

Join a Canadian shopper on the search for clothing that respects people and the environment.

If Free Trade then Fair Trade...................................23 Fair Trade Programs Update....................................26

recipe Sangria, Salsa, and Guacamole................................28

book review Bananeras.........................................................................30


Fair Summer Fare

What’s better than a cool glass of sangria on a summer afternoon? How about fresh salsa and guacamole? All fair trade, of course.




publisher’s letter

Together We Can Influence Our World


ever doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” That famous quote, attributed to prominent American cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead, has always been one of my favourites. Why do I love that quote? Because it supports the idea that we have power to influence the world around us. I realize Mead's words have become fodder for memes and inspirational posters on classroom walls, yet when we read them with earnestness they encourage and challenge us. They leave us with a choice: How will we exercise our power? Or will we even bother? Whether we are active or passive, we exercise our power every day— often without thinking about it. We make influential decisions whenever we stop by the grocery store or pick up that new T-shirt. When we buy fair trade products, we show the world that Canadians value the rights of farmers and workers in the global south: to earn living wages, develop their communities, and send their children to school. Yet fair trade does so much more than pay fair prices to those who have earned it. It fosters gender equality and self-determination. It encourages agricultural practices that benefit crops and climate alike. It brings together communities, both in times of growth and in times of crisis. This is happening across the world, and examples aren’t difficult to find. For instance, in this issue, you can read about how

Norandino, a producer-led organization, has stepped forward to assist fair trade farmers during the recent flooding in northern Peru. You can also read about the composting techniques that promise to improve soil conditions for Ethiopian coffee farmers. Transforming society doesn’t happen overnight. But I am excited to see where we can take things. In Canada, young people are learning about their global influence through the Fair Trade School designation program. So far, in 2017, five schools have earned designations. At the post-secondary level, students are leading their colleges and universities toward Fair Trade Campus designations, working with food service companies and finding creative ways to promote fair trade products; 16 campuses have joined the ranks in the past 16 months! In addition, students have influence beyond schools. The steering committee that helped lead Selkirk, Manitoba, to its Fair Trade Town designation featured a large contingent of junior high students, 12- to 14-year-olds who took the lead in promoting the campaign throughout the community. It is encouraging to see that people are engaged, and are choosing to step up and have a say. I envision a world that is clean and green, full of fairness and equity, where we transition our goals from acquiring wealth and power to bettering humankind. It’s an ideal, but I’m confident that together, we can make it a reality.

Sean McHugh Publisher, Executive Director Canadian Fair Trade Network

4 | F A I R T R A D E M A G A Z I N E ¡ C A N A D A’ S V O I C E F O R S O C I A L S U S T A I N A B I L I T Y

Publisher | Sean McHugh Managing Editor | Erik Johnson Editor | Bryce Tarling Contributors | Erin Bird, Monika Firl, Ian Hudson, Kimberly Leung, Stefan Rasporich, Will Richter, and Jennifer Williams Photo Credits | City of Selkirk (27), Monika Firl (cover, 3, 13–16), Dustin Leader (7), Norandino (3, 9–12), Natasha Pirani (4), Stefan Rasporich (26–27), Shutterstock (3, 18–21, 23–24) and Marika Witkamp (3, 28–29) Original Design | Wade Stewart Issue Layout | Erik Johnson

We want to hear from you! 514 – 207 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 1H7 1-604-685-6005  | editor@cftn.ca

Canadian Fair Trade Network Réseau canadien du commerce équitable

The Canadian Fair Trade Network (CFTN) is a non-profit organization that works with civil society and industry stakeholders to advance awareness and support for fair trade in Canada. It supports collaboration and best practices within the fair trade movement to increase Canadian commitments to international social responsibility. cftn.ca Fair Trade Magazine is published by the Canadian Fair Trade Network. Copyright 2017. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without publisher’s written permission. Not responsible for unsolicited editorial material. The information provided in this magazine is for educational and informational purposes only. Fair Trade Magazine makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information it provides but cannot be held responsible for any consequences arising from errors or omissions.

Fresh. Beautiful. Ethical. Add Fairtrade Flowers to your Shopping List Find them at: The Flower Forest, Dryden, ON Arborg Nic Nacs, Arborg, MB The Station, Boissevain, MB Carman Florist, Carman, MB Fountain of Flowers, Dauphin, MB Cut & Dried Russell Flowers, Russell, MB Edward Carriere, Winnipeg, MB The Floral Fixx, Winnipeg, MB U Floria, Winnipeg, MB Freson Bros., AB Boyle Floral Cottage, Boyle, AB Co-op Mill Wood, Edmonton, AB Earth’s General Store, Edmonton, AB Funky Petals, Edmonton, AB Graham & Lane Florist, Edmonton, AB Falher IDA Pharmacy, Falher, AB Fantasy Flowers, Vermillion, AB Choices Markets, BC Thrifty Foods, BC Steveston Super Grocer, Richmond, BC Claytons Heritage Market, Sechelt, BC Bloom Room Botanical Gallery, Vancouver, BC Meinhardt Fine Foods, Vancouver, BC


Distributor of Fairtrade Certified Flowers

Winnipeg | Saskatoon | Edmonton | Calgary | Vancouver www.floristssupply.com



With your support, we are making a difference! Together, with the CFTN and our campus partners, Chartwells is working toward our common goal of building a just and sustainable food system.

Take a journey with us dineoncampus.ca

6 | F A I R T R A D E M A G A Z I N E ¥ C A N A D A’ S V O I C E F O R S O C I A L S U S T A I N A B I L I T Y

Why Fair Trade? The fair trade movement exists because terms of trade are often unfair. This puts producers all over the world in disadvantaged positions.

How does it work? Based on partnerships between producers and consumers, fair trade is an alternative approach to conventional trade. When farmers sell their products through fair trade, they receive a minimum price, improved terms, and a social premium that brings them the opportunity to improve their lives and plan for their future.

For us Fair trade offers consumers a powerful way to reduce poverty through everyday purchases. Fair trade also helps us better understand where our products come from.

Standards There are distinct sets of standards that ensure basic labour rights are respected for small-scale farmers, hired workers, and independent artisans.

Benefits In the fair trade system businesses pay a minimum price and an additional premium, which is used to help fund education, healthcare, infrastructure, and business-improvement projects in the producers’ communities. The producers form committees to decide how to spend the premium.

The bigger picture Fair trade supports the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, addresses climate change through improved agricultural techniques, and encourages business practices that reduce poverty for producers in the global south.

Assurance Third-party certifiers and membership-based organizations ensure that standards are met, often using a seal or a stamp of approval on product packaging. The Canadian Fair Trade Network currently recognizes the following certifiers and/or membership-based organizations: Fairtrade International, the Small Producers’ Symbol, the Fair Trade Federation, and the World Fair Trade Organization.



CFTN Fairtrade Mag 2017.pdf



12:48 PM

taste it. feel it. edgy on the one hand, seductively smooth on the other.










8 | F A I R T R A D E M A G A Z I N E ¡ C A N A D A’ S V O I C E F O R S O C I A L S U S T A I N A B I L I T Y

on the ground Between January and March, 2017, El Niño–like ocean temperatures off the coast of Peru brought excessive rain inland. In the region of Piura, rivers overflowed their banks, destroying homes, crops, irrigation systems, and roadways. Many families from the village of Quemazón, pictured here, were left homeless.

Disaster in Piura: How fair trade brings hope to those who lost everything BY J EN N IFER W ILLI A MS


etween January and March of this year, Peru was pummelled by heavy rains caused by warmer, El Niño–like ocean temperatures along its coast. Among the areas affected by this torrential rainfall was the Piura region in northern Peru. One weather station in Morropón, Piura, measured 1,092 millimetres of precipitation between January and March. Because Piura usually sees minimal winter rainfall— between 25 and 100 millimetres total, on average—this excess rain was devastating. The Piura River overf lowed its banks and flooded cities and villages,

destroying homes, businesses, schools, and farms. Severe flooding afflicted Catacaos, Tambogrande, and Piura City, where the water reached almost two metres higher than normal. The rains also caused flooding throughout the district of Chulucanas. In Piura, the disaster displaced 45,000 families, forcing them into tents in a desert climate, without water, food, or basic hygiene. Thousands of these families are part of the fair trade community, members of co-ops that grow fair trade bananas, cocoa, coffee, and panela. Many of these co-ops are affiliated with Norandino, a second-

tier co-op that partners with fair trade producers across northern Peru. In a translated statement, Santiago Paz Lopez, Co-Manager of Norandino, sums up the plight of these farmers: “They are so much poorer than before.”

Dengue fever strikes Piura Adding to the catastrophe is a dengue epidemic. Since the flooding subsided, over 44,000 cases of dengue fever have been reported in Peru. Dengue is a mosquito-borne virus that can remain asymptomatic for up to seven days after infection. When symptoms do arrive they can include a sudden high fever, CF TN.C A |


rashes, and muscle, joint, and bone pain. Some infections can progress to dengue hemorrhagic fever, which is potentially fatal—in 2017 it has already claimed over 50 lives in Peru. There is no treatment for the virus. While the government has declared an emergency in Piura and launched an aggressive fumigation effort, Dengue’s delayed symptoms, combined with excess standing water— ideal breeding grounds for mosquitos—make the virus very difficult to manage.

Norandino’s response

Rising water flooded stands of mango and cocoa trees, washing away soil and trees.

During and after the flooding Norandino worked tirelessly to provide short-term relief by offering food, clothing, and hygiene necessities to affected communities and producers. They also mobilized crews to help with the clean-up and fumigation efforts. More recently they have been involved in

In Piura, the disaster displaced 45,000 families, forcing them into tents in a desert climate, without water, food, or basic hygiene.

These farmers, whose homes have been ruined, are staying with family and friends until they can rebuild.

With roads and bridges washed away, travel wasn’t easy. Here a team from Norandino crosses the flood water on a makeshift raft.

restoring structures, agricultural land, and plant health. Many coffee farmers are facing increased incidences of crop disease due to the high levels of humidity from the flooding and rains. Norandino is working with producers to maintain the health and productivity of their plants. Paz Lopez believes that it’s Norandino’s role to step in during crises. “For 27 years I have been working with small producers in our country. I realize that the situation of rural men and women has always been an emergency. That is why at Norandino we are accustomed to working in these situations, not only when there are floods or El Niño phenomena, but also when we face droughts, pests, crop disease, production issues, or drops in market pricing. “When there are droughts we worry about how to solve the lack of water for crops. If plagues occur, we look for ways to save their production and their plantations. When the prices fall in the international market, we make efforts to get our customers to pay above the market price.” Moving forward, the work of Norandino will be critical in rebuilding the lives and livelihoods of its members. Fortunately Norandino and its members have been well supported by the

1 0 | F A I R T R A D E M A G A Z I N E ¡ C A N A D A’ S V O I C E F O R S O C I A L S U S T A I N A B I L I T Y

international fair trade community. Many of Norandino’s fair trade clients in Canada, Europe, and the United States have provided donations for flood relief and reconstruction.

Government aid isn’t enough What will happen to the rural farmers who are not part of Norandino’s efforts? The government initially provided affected families with basic food needs; however, this amount has been insufficient. For producers who lost their harvest, the government is providing S/. 1,000 (C$416) per hectare of land to a maximum of four hectares. Because the average farmer owns between one half and two hectares of land, most farmers won’t receive more than S/. 2,000 (C$832). This is a fraction of what they would have earned from their crops. Consider the average annual income for producers: CROP



S/. 6,000


S/. 8,000

yuca, rice

S/. 12,000

Cocoa farmer German Reyez reviews the damage caused by high water, which ruined his trees and washed away his land.

Coffee farmers are not eligible for government support, even though they have also been affected. Without assistance from the international fair trade community and Norandino, fair trade coffee growers would be rebuilding on their own.

Fair trade solutions for a changing climate As weather patterns become more unpredictable, as natural disasters become more frequent, fair trade can offer some possible solutions. From a practical perspective, fair trade standards promote agricultural practices that create harmony between farmers and the environment. Fair trade also offers technical training on farming techniques that produce better yields and decrease carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Over the past decade, numerous studies have shown that organic agriculture and agroforestry techniques improve carbon sequestration in plants and soil, yet the potential of these practices is still being realized. A recent report from the Rodale Institute says that “we could sequester more than 100 percent of current annual CO2 emissions with a switch to widely available and inexpensive organic management practices.” Fairtrade International has also launched a carbon credits program that provides producers with a financial incentive to decrease their carbon emissions or create carbon sinks. These financial incentives come in the form of carbon credits that

A destroyed cocoa tree. Each cocoa tree can take three to five years to produce harvestable cocoa pods.

Gracián Núñez stands next to the rain-swollen river that swept away his cocoa trees and the soil they grew in.

are purchased by companies that want to offset their own emissions. In turn, carbon offsetting and decreasing CO2 emissions provide a financial benefit for producers. More importantly, reducing CO2 emissions could stem the tide of climate change, which continues to have a profound impact on producers’ ability to make a living through farming.

Fair trade is more than better prices When we make decisions about buying fair trade–certified products we commonly think about the improved pricing that the farmers who produce fair trade coffee, cocoa, tea, sugar, or bananas will receive. We understand that paying slightly more for fair trade products supports farmers in the global south as they earn better incomes. For the farmers living in rural northern Peru who were affected by heavy flooding and landslides this past winter, fair trade is about so much more than price. It represents an insurance policy, a network of support, and a community that comes together in times of need. It is in these moments of crisis that members of Norandino see the tangible benefits of their partnership with fair trade: assistance and aid that their neighbours and friends, who are not part of the fair trade system, simply do not have access to.


1985 - 2017 Celebrating 32 Years!

Jennifer Williams is a conscious entrepreneur who has been part of a fair trade worker–co-operative, works with businesses to implement employee–share ownership programs, and offers services to companies that want to create connected, impact-oriented businesses. You can reach Jennifer at jennifer@ goodfood2u.ca

tel: 905-898-7275 fax: 905-898-7277 toll free: 1-877-ark-1-ark 1260 Journey’s End Circle, Unit 17 Newmarket, ON L 3Y 8Z 7 1 2 | F A I R T R A D E M A G A Z I N E ¡ C A N A D A’ S V O I C E F O R S O C I A L S U S T A I N A B I L I T Y

growing change

Regenerating Soils at the Birthplace of Coffee BY MON IK A FIR L



SOIL DEGRADATION AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN ETHIOPIA Ethiopia is notable among African nations for its issues of soil degradation. In Addis Ababa, leading up to the workshop, the local weekly paper, Capital, featured no less than five articles on climate change, carbon taxes, and sustainable development. Clearly there is an appetite in Ethiopia to know more about sustainable lifestyles, production practices, and ways of doing business.


thiopia, considered the birthplace of coffee, is home to more than 6,000 naturally occurring coffee varietals growing under forest canopies across the country. According to popular legend, coffee was discovered in the 10th century when Kaldi, an Abyssinian goat herder, observed unusual dancing behaviour after his goats ate the bright red berries from a coffee bush. After trying the raw cherries himself, Kaldi went to a nearby monastery in order to share this “heavenly fruit.” But Kaldi’s coffee offering was not embraced by the monks with the same delight. Instead, they called it “the Devil’s work” and tossed the fruit into the fire. It was only with the enchanting aroma of the roasted beans that the monks gave coffee a second chance, and the rest is history.

Farmers left to support themselves

Launching into the workshop, Hussen Ahmed, director of Soil & More Ethiopia, explains the challenges facing Ethiopian soils, the critical elements for achieving soil recovery, and the basic steps to creating well-balanced compost to the benefit of micro-biological life in the soil.

Everyone is eager to put the theory into practice. Farmers jump at the few available hoes and shovels to level the designated space for the compost windrow. They gather the needed green materials rich in nitrogen and ideal for cultivating beneficial bacteria.

Today some 15 million Ethiopians live off of the production and harvest of coffee, or buna as it is called in the local Amharic language. The vast majority of Ethiopian coffee farmers are small-scale, sustaining themselves on less than two hectares of land. With the relatively high cost of chemical inputs and the extremely low average annual family income of less than US$600 per year, Ethiopian coffee farmers must produce organically, either as part of a certified control system or by default. But despite the important role organic coffee plays in the economic life of the country, farmers often lack the technical training and support necessary for managing production that’s not only sustainable, but also ensures competitiveness in today’s crowded coffee markets. “For decades the Ethiopian government has been promoting a poor model for composting,” says Hussen Ahmed, director of Soil & More Ethiopia. “Essentially, farmers are told to leave organic residue in a pit one metre deep and two metres wide for a month before tossing it into another pit of similar size. After a total of 90 days the farmer pulls the decomposed materials out and spreads it in his fields.” “But this work is both back-breaking and ineffective,” Ahmed adds. “The compost pits lack oxygen – which can actually promote the propagation of pathogens, instead of the beneficial bacteria we create with aerated models of composting – such as above-ground windrows. And without giving proper advice on how to reach the high temperatures needed to neutralize weed seeds, a farmer can expect to see all kinds of vegetation sprouting in his field after the compost is applied. Again, adding additional cleanup work for the farmer.”

Co-op collaboration Cooperative Coffees (Coop Coffees) is a North American coffee importer with a mandate to support small-scale farmers

through direct and fair trade. As part of their mandate, in January 2017, they created the Carbon, Climate and Coffee Initiative, which sets aside US$0.03 as a voluntary carbon tax on every pound of green coffee purchased by the co-operative. Money from the initiative goes into an in-house “carboninset” fund, which allows Coop Coffees roasters to reinvest directly with producers and partner co-operatives. The fund prioritizes projects that encourage reforestation, soil regeneration, experimentation, and learning about other carbon-capture practices. Calculating and tracking a collective carbon footprint and investing a corresponding financial inset is an opportunity for Coop Coffees to show environmental responsibility and to participate in a broader conversation on climate justice. At the same time, investing in carbon-sequestering and intensiveorganic agricultural practices enhances productivity and contributes to the health and sustainable development in producer communities, while strengthening connections across the co-operative’s supply chain. It’s an absolute “winwin-win” proposition.

Elise St-Pierre, a Montreal-based biologist, and Kevin Walters, co-owner of Toronto-based roaster Alternative Grounds, gather additional dry materials to add to the pile. Dry materials ideally comprise up to 40 percent of the total compost mass to feed the beneficial fungal life (mycelium) that is so critical to balanced decomposition.

And then the chopping begins. During initial conversations with the farmer representatives, they expressed their need for better tools. Wheelbarrows, better blades for chopping, or a mechanical shredder would make an enormous difference in their capacity to collect and prepare the compost. CF TN.C A |


Few of the participating farmers have more than one cow or donkey, so a reliable source of animal manure was not guaranteed. Luckily for the farmers, a just-in-time manure delivery arrives as vegetal materials are being laid out for the compost row.

Regional training and support In early May, the Coop Coffee’s fund supported a week-long workshop on soils, composting, and productivity, held at the primary washing station of Fero Cooperative near Yirgalem, located in the Sidama zone of Ethiopia. The event was attended by small-scale and organic coffee producers from Fero, Telamo, Taramesa, and Shilicho cooperatives, all members of the Sidama Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (SCFCU), representing a total of 82,000 coffee farmer families organized in 56 community-based co-operatives across their region. To demonstrate and provide technical support for an alternative composting model, Coop Coffees partnered with

Soil & More Ethiopia. As part of the workshop, Soil & More provided training on windrow composting, a high-yield method of composting where organic waste is laid into long rows. The rows are turned periodically to keep them aerated, allowing oxygen flow and heat propagation that reduces pathogens and neutralizes weeds. Soil & More has proven its practices at its test site, a 25-hectare former landfill, which—after nearly four years of intensive compost production (some 227,000 tonnes annually) and application in their trial fields and tree rows—has resulted in astonishing levels of soil regeneration and crop productivity. “Soil & More is a magical fit for us and this project work,” says Kevin

Walters of Alternative Grounds. “[Their] teaching method absolutely captivated the workshop participants and [their] enthusiasm for compost is contagious. I feel privileged to witness the power of that work and to be a part of this cooperative initiative.” The primary objectives of this firstof-its-kind workshop in the Sidama Region included hands-on learning, a shared understanding about the necessary life in healthy soil, the onsite construction of a compost windrow, and the eventual application of regenerative organic farming practices in farmers’ fields.

A new turn for Sidama Et h iopia n fa r mers encounter challenges at every step in their work. A lack of reliable technical information, inadequate tools, and insufficient basic materials and supplies, make the prospects of widespread and effective composting seem almost insurmountable. For example, compost f leece—a basic, but very particular fabric designed to control the humidity of unprotected compost piles—is all but impossible to source in the country. Sold in enormous rolls in Quebec and in Europe, Coop Coffees sourced as much of this material as possible. And now, just one short workshop later, things look quite different for the farmers. Having identified an incredible local source of information and innovation with Soil & More, with 30 recently-converted composting disciples, and with some 40 metres of remaining compost fleece on site—and clean barrels, shovels, and vegetation shredding tools en route—a composting wave is poised to wash across the SCFCU region of influence in Sidama.

Compost fleece is a basic, but very particular fabric designed to control the humidity of

Monika Firl is director of sustainability at Coop

unprotected compost piles exposed to heat evaporation and waterlogging from rain. It’s


almost impossible to source in Ethiopia. Coop Coffees managed to source enough compost fleece to supply the workshop, while leaving surplus for seasons to come. 1 6 | F A I R T R A D E M A G A Z I N E ¡ C A N A D A’ S V O I C E F O R S O C I A L S U S T A I N A B I L I T Y

a Breakfast that Cares

NuTerraCereal.com ( in QuĂŠbec retailers only )




Finding Alternatives to Fast Fashion BY K IM BER LY LEU NG

1 8 | F A I R T R A D E M A G A Z I N E ¡ C A N A D A’ S V O I C E F O R S O C I A L S U S T A I N A B I L I T Y


he term “fast fashion” might bring to mind cheap and cheerful— inexpensive items purchased on a whim, stylish without breaking the bank. Or it might evoke a more negative impression: wasteful, shoddy, and ill-fitting clothing that falls apart after a few wears, with profit made at the expense of workers. However you see it, there’s no denying the success of this model. Quick inventory turnover means we can find something new and affordable almost every time we shop. Since 2004, clothing sales in Canada have increased every year, hitting $41.9 billion in 2015. Part of this growth can be attributed to the popularity of fast fashion, which thrives in a challenging retail landscape by consistently offering low prices for consumers while delivering higher margins for businesses. But fast fashion’s impact on the environment, not to mention the human cost, is unsettling. The textile industry is a huge polluter with its heavy use of pesticides and toxic chemicals, contaminating the air, soil, and waterways. Garment factory workers are often forced to toil in substandard conditions, putting in long hours for little pay. While these problems are hardly new, the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh in 2013 sparked wider consumer awareness of these issues, resulting in mainstream voices calling for change, and retailers promising to do better. Today, celebrities show up in ecoconscious clothing at big events and publicize their ethical clothing on social media. Big names like H&M now offer limited edition sustainable collections. So while fast fashion is still going strong, there are parallel trends toward minimalism, mindful consumerism, and even self-improvement through closet organization (like the KonMari Method and capsule wardrobes).

Defining ethics: A moving target

ca n we lea rn to treat unethical and unsustainably made clothing the same way we treat clothing we deem to be too expensive—by leaving it on the rack?

What makes an article of clothing sustainable or ethical? There’s no fixed definition for either term in the fashion industry, leaving businesses to put their own spin on it. From Preloved, a brand that upcycles vintage fabrics into modern pieces, to Encircled, a fashion line that uses eco-friendly fabrics, to One Earth, a direct sales outfit with merchandise sourced through partnerships with overseas artisans, there are alternatives. Companies that identify as sustainable or ethical usually indicate that their products are made with minimal exploitation of the environment, workers, or both. In some cases, they even outline a clear intent to produce quality, versatile items to reduce the need for added consumption. Ethical and sustainable product lines also tend to be more expensive. For today’s budget-minded shopper, this is a major obstacle towards change. “Consumers are still very much motivated by price and the thrill of getting a good deal,” says Jane Gragtmans, founder of Didi Bihini, a Canadian fair trade gifts wholesaler. And the stats back her up. While clothing sales grew in volume between 2004 and 2015, the cost of clothing decreased during the same period.

What about fair trade– certified clothing? If you thought finding ethical clothing was a lready tricky, f inding fair trade–certified options is even more difficult. For a variety of reasons, small companies looking to make their mark in sustainable fashion aren’t often pursuing certification. Some lack the resources. Others simply don’t fit the fair trade model. For example, a company that turns discarded fabrics into limited edition collections doesn’t



fast fashion: i nex p en s iv e items purch a sed o n a wh i m? o r wasteful, ill-fitting clothing with profit made at the expense of workers?

count as fair trade, but with an estimated 1 million tonnes of textiles entering Canadian landfills on an annual basis, such companies occupy a necessary space. Many sustainable and ethical apparel businesses do embrace fair trade principles, like paying living wages and building capacity in their workers to bring better alternatives to the marketplace. The downside? Companies that use the term fair trade without being certified cause confusion in the minds of consumers. Without certification, the term lacks transparency and risks being redefined however a company sees fit. Why aren’t more companies choosing to seek out certification? According to Jonit Bookheim, director of sales and social impact at Mata Traders, a Chicago-based fashion retailer, fair trade certification for apparel is a relatively new process. “Fair trade was traditionally used for commodities, agricultural products that are farmed and sold,” she says. “Clothing is a value-added product, where additional labour and processing has to occur before a saleable item can be produced.” Mata Traders is a member of the Fair Trade Federation, and Bookheim has had firsthand experience with the challenges of attaining that status. The number of steps and people involved in manufacturing clothing makes the process exceptionally difficult to verify. The fibres have to be grown, processed, and woven into material, which is then dyed and treated before being cut and sewn into the finished product. Each stage needs to meet the corresponding standards for the final product to be considered fair trade. In contrast, the process for certifying fair trade bananas or coffee is more straightforward.

Flipping the model In addition, the fair trade model, in some respects, simply runs contrary to traditional clothing production techniques. Fair trade aims to empower workers and foster a co-operative environment where workers have a say in how things are run. A typical garment factory involves quotas, rigid hours, and a hierarchy of power, with the threat of penalties if workers do not comply. A fair trade model of production also presents significant challenges to apparel retailers, adding uncertainties that don’t exist with conventional production. Small companies lack the resources to accurately forecast fashion trends for future seasons, and the collectives they work with may not be accustomed to making Western-style clothing and accessories, and could require extra training.

A step toward transparency Ultimately, the sheer size of the fashion industry makes any sort of major changes difficult to enact and enforce. Because

2 0 | F A I R T R A D E M A G A Z I N E ¡ C A N A D A’ S V O I C E F O R S O C I A L S U S T A I N A B I L I T Y

big clothing companies rely on networks of factories and subfactories, they can ostensibly separate their brands from any one factory’s unsavoury labour practices. While some companies have stepped up and published lists of suppliers, many others are reluctant. Last year, a group of human rights organizations and labour unions challenged 72 garment and footwear companies to pledge supply chain transparency and share the names of their contractors and subcontractors. A recent report published by Human Rights Watch (a co-creator of the pledge) states that out of 72 clothing and footwear companies they contacted, only 17 are on track to meet supply chain transparency standards by the end of 2017. While the pledge encourages only a basic level of transparency, the Fairtrade Textile Standard is more ambitious, with guidelines for better wages and working conditions—the first step to certifying the entire supply chain. But uptake has been slow, with only a handful of European companies currently signed on. Part of the responsibility lies with consumers to demand change, and this requires a new mindset, a move away from

bargain hunting and instant gratification. “We really encourage the general public to participate, for example by contacting companies and encouraging them to sign up to the Fairtrade Textile Standard,” says Shannon Brown, business development manager at Fairtrade Canada. A shift in customer tastes and expectations could push the industry to get better much faster than waiting for companies to voluntarily implement ethical regulations. As consumers, can we learn to treat unethical and unsustainably made clothing the same way we treat clothing we deem to be too expensive—by leaving it on the rack? Can we learn, collectively, to look at value as more than just what’s on the price tag, digging deeper to consider the environmental and human cost as well? Only when we do will fast fashion finally lose its appeal, allowing sustainable, ethical, and fair trade retailers to take over. Kimberly Leung is a Toronto-based freelance writer with a special interest in sustainable and ethical living.




of canadian consumers who have seen the

fairtrade mark

trust it


In a recent independent Globescan study more than 8 out of 10 Canadians who have seen the FAIRTRADE Mark feel it has a positive impact on their perceptions of labelled products. Consumers indicate that the FAIRTRADE Mark is increasingly associated with their personal values, and they are proud to be seen with the label. Are you part of the Fairtrade movement?

2 2 | F A I R T R A D E M A G A Z I N E ¥ C A N A D A’ S V O I C E F O R S O C I A L S U S T A I N A B I L I T Y


If Free Trade then Fair Trade BY I A N H U DSON


otwithstanding President Trump’s populist criticism of free trade, it remains the policy of choice for most world power brokers, including Prime Minister Trudeau. Those who support free trade argue that it is fair for the countries involved, but a closer inspection reveals that free trade is, in both theory and practice, antithetical to what most people would consider to be a just system of trade.

What’s fair about free trade? Free trade is primarily based on the idea that different nations are good at producing different things, so they should not try to produce everything they consume. If Canada can produce wheat efficiently but has more difficulty growing bananas, and Jamaica can produce bananas cheaply but has a bit

more trouble with wheat, then Canada should produce wheat and sell it to Jamaica in exchange for its bananas. This is the famed theory of comparative advantage, which argues that trade is fair because it increases income and consumption in both countries. Second, some of the nations that have followed an export-oriented development strategy, like South Korea and more recently China, have famously enjoyed tremendous income gains. These countries appear to justify the idea that poor nations can become rich by following a policy of free trade and exporting to the world. Advocates use this evidence to argue that free trade is fair because it decreases global income inequality. A final fairness element in free trade is the avoidance of harm to others. When

a nation restricts trade in order to protect its domestic industries and workers, it harms the countries that are the target of that restriction. One example of this is the lost jobs and income in the Canadian lumber industry that result every time the US protects its timber companies from Canadian exports in the repeating saga that is the softwood lumber dispute. So free trade policies are a way of avoiding “beggar thy neighbour” policies that harm other countries.

Free trade’s fairness contradiction There are some real problems with claims that free trade represents a fair deal both between nations and for different groups within nations. The first category of problem, which exists because free trade enables companies to CF TN.C A |


continually seek out lower production costs, is inevitable and would require agreements that explicitly attempt to counteract these issues. The second category of problem is caused by the specific ways that free trade has been negotiated in deals like the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements. The race to the bottom Many of the problems inherent in free trade can be classified under the widely used phrase “the race to the bottom.” When goods are free to move between nations, firms will tend to produce in the nation that offers them the lowest costs. This makes it difficult for any nation to impose conditions on firms that increase their costs, whether through environmental, health, or safety regulations, or labour standards like

powerful economic and political interests. Free trade deals are about each country getting a good deal for themselves, or more specifically, a good deal for powerful political (and economic) elites within the nation. Our current system of free trade restricts exports of agricultural products from poor nations to protect farmers in wealthy countries. Many agreements include clauses that allow corporations to sue governments when they pass regulations that restrict profits, like NAFTA’s Chapter 11. Under its Trade-Related Investment Measures clause, the WTO restricts nations from imposing performance criteria (like employing a certain percent of managers from the domestic economy) on investments from multinational companies. Current trade agreements represent the dominance of not only the interests of rich countries over

Virtually no currently affluent country followed a policy of free trade during its formative years. It seems hardly fair to deny today’s developing nations the same policy freedom

minimum wages or limits on working hours. Fair trade’s belief that producers should get a living wage from their labour is subverted by this problem. Free trade is part of the reason that the share of wages in the Canadian economy has fallen while profits of corporations have increased. Any alleviation of this inevitable trend would require specific agreements between trading nations to place a common floor under social and environmental conditions. While many international trade agreements pay lip service to the idea of ensuring reasonable environmental and working conditions, most, like the WTO, oppose trade policy that attempts to set minimum production standards. According to a 2001 WTO statement, a trade deal that contains rules that stipulate how a product is made would constitute an infringement on a country’s ability to set its own production standards. So, according to the WTO, a trade deal that requires a minimum wage among all trading partners would restrict their freedoms to have lower wages. Trade deals and politics The second fairness problem revolves around the specific nature of free trade agreements, which are subject to

poor but also the dominance of the corporate interests within the rich countries.

Can free trade be fair? To make free trade more fair, it would need to be transformed so that the beneficiaries were shifted from giant firms to actual citizens, especially those in poorer countries. Recently, the Trade Justice Network was part of a huge meeting in Mexico City attempting to use the Trump-driven restructuring of NAFTA as an opportunity to advocate for trade principles that should be familiar to supporters of fair trade, like putting people and the environment at the centre of the deal, while rejecting the isolationist rhetoric of the current United States president. In other words, free trade should be more like fair trade. This would mean reversing the trend of wealthy countries restricting trade from poor countries’ producers. It would also mean allowing poorer nations more latitude to restrict trade when they think it is harming their domestic economy. South Korea, and other success stories, may have grown on the back of export-led trade policy, but its government deliberately protected its domestic firms from foreign competition during

2 4 | F A I R T R A D E M A G A Z I N E ¡ C A N A D A’ S V O I C E F O R S O C I A L S U S T A I N A B I L I T Y

their early years with policies that are currently forbidden under the WTO. In fact, virtually no currently affluent country followed a policy of free trade during its formative years. It seems hardly fair to deny today’s developing nations the same policy freedom. Of course, eliminating wealthy country restrictions on exports from poorer nations exacerbates the race to the bottom. One way to address this would be to take the much more ambitious step of applying the principles of fair trade, which include guaranteed minimum social and environmental criteria, to all trade. Why should only a select few products (and their producers) have guarantees of reasonable social and environmental conditions? In the words of Nobel Prize–winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, why not Fair Trade for All? Ian Hudson is a professor of economics at the University of Manitoba. He has written a number of articles on fair trade and is the co-author of Fair Trade Sustainability and Social Change.

. C A | 2 10:46 5 AM 11130-CMHR-BoutiqueAd[FairTradeMag][3.5x9.45]-May2017-FNLpaths.indd 1 C F T N 2017-05-30

fair trade programs update A Bean of Its Own: Acadia Introduces New Coffee Blend


s part of its commitment to fair trade, Acadia University in Wolfville,

NS, is launching its own blend of fair trade coffee. “There’s a lot of great fair trade coffee available,” says Jodie Noiles, Sustainability Coordinator at Acadia, “but students wanted an option that was unique to Acadia.”

The students, staff, and faculty on Acadia’s Fair Trade

Campus Committee didn’t need to look far to find a roaster to collaborate with. “Just Us! operates its main roastery in nearby Grand Pré, and its coffee shop in Wolfville is very popular among Acadia students,” says Noiles. “They were an obvious choice to work with to develop our signature blend.”

The Acadia Students’ Union conducted tastings to find the

right blend and then held a contest to select a name and logo. Quentin Horvath, a fourth-year kinesiology student, came up with the winning name, Hacha Java, and design. Noiles explains: “Hacha is ‘axe’ in Spanish and our teams are the Axemen and Axewomen, an homage to our rural roots, so it's a great play on words.”

As it closes in on its Fair Trade Campus designation,

Acadia University has drawn momentum from the growing awareness about fair trade on campus and the strong tradition of supporting fair trade in Wolfville, which was designated Canada’s first Fair Trade Town in 2007.

“The campaign has been steadily moving forward over

the past few years,” says Noiles, “but this year there’s been a groundswell of support from students, faculty, and staff. After participating in the National Fair Trade Conference, students returned to Wolfville inspired and eager to see Acadia designated. The Student Union President, Grace Hamilton-Burge, attended the event and has since been leading the effort in partnership with the Acadia Sustainability Office and Chartwells, Acadia’s food service provider.”

Acadia will officially launch Hacha Java this September

during Fair Trade Campus Week.




Students Take Fair Trade Products to Market BY STEFA N R A SPOR ICH


s part of the education component for the Fair Trade School designation, Year 9 students from Calgary Arts Academy participated in a multi-stage marketplace simulation to explore consumerism, marketing, and entrepreneurialism. The school invested $5 for each of the students, who then used their investments to create two sets of products or services: one fair trade and the other pure profit. The students also used Google Trends to identify key terms that would guide them in discovering what products would generate the most demand, and where in the world this demand would be highest. During the marketplace simulation, students set up booths and marketing materials (such as websites) to promote their products and services to consumers. The ensuing simulated marketplace was lively, engaging, and led to hands-on explorations of economics. After the marketplace, students paid back the initial investment (where possible) and created a report that tracked their cost of materials and profit margins. Also, they used their Google Trends data plus their marketplace profits as proof of demand to persuade a Dragons’ Den–type panel to invest in their products. Students acted out investors, with some biased







Selkirk’s Whirlwind Campaign


fter winning the first-ever Workplace of the Year at the 2016 Canadian Fairtrade Awards, the City of Selkirk worked quickly to become Canada’s 23rd Fair Trade Town. The

process took fewer than three months. It started in February with the forming of a Fair Trade Steering Committee and culminated on May 9, 2017, at École Selkirk Junior High School, where members of the community gathered to celebrate the designation, which was the quickest in Canada to date.

towards pure profit and others valuing planet or purpose profit. Many students visited the Crowchild Ten Thousand Villages to purchase fair trade chocolate in creating their marketplace products. The manager was delighted to see such engagement in youth and offered discounts to facilitate the development of their product line. Designated Canada’s 14th Fair Trade School in April 2017, Calgary Arts Academy is a public charter school that teaches the Alberta curriculum through arts immersion to engage students to become confident learners and spirited citizens.

“It was a momentous finish to what was an educational, action-packed and often

harried campaign,” says Shelly Leonard, program coordinator for culture, recreation and green transportation for the City of Selkirk. Joining Leonard at the celebration was Mayor Larry Johannson, members of city council, and the steering committee, which included École Selkirk’s Youth in Action group. These students, who range in age from 12 to 14 years old, took the lead in reaching out to the people of Selkirk.

One of their ideas for community outreach was a bus tour of local establishments. On

two separate tours, the steering committee, members of the Selkirk Biz (the city’s chamber of commerce), community stakeholders, and the local press visited businesses throughout the city. The goal was to highlight the available fair trade products and interview owners and managers about the benefits of selling fair trade. It was an eye-opening experience for many of the local businesses to see the variety of fair trade products.

“The bus tour served two purposes,” says Leonard. “By filming the store tours and

interviews, the committee spread the word about the campaign. At the same time, they fulfilled the designation requirement of cataloguing the fair trade products that are available in Selkirk.”

The committee also promoted the campaign by conducting taste tests of fair trade

chocolate and coffee in the mall and at local schools. Stefan Rasporich is an arts educator, writer, and CEO

of Infinite Mind Pictures Inc.

community,” says Leonard.

“It’s impressive to see young people leading the committee and impacting the The committee is planning to host additional taste tests at events around Selkirk

this summer. École Selkirk Junior High School is presently working on its Fair Trade School designation.








Fair Summer Fare: Sangria, Salsa, and Guacamole BY ER IN BIR D

2 8 | F A I R T R A D E M A G A Z I N E ¡ C A N A D A’ S V O I C E F O R S O C I A L S U S T A I N A B I L I T Y


pitcher of sangria makes a fine companion for an evening on your front porch. Complete the spread with homemade salsa, fresh guacamole, and a big bowl of tortilla chips. Don’t forget to bring a couple of glasses for the neighbours.

Fair Trade Sangria 1 bottle of fair trade red wine (We choose a fruity and peppery South African shiraz) 250 ml of orange juice 2 Tbsp of fair trade sugar 1 ounce of brandy 1 cup of fair trade grapefruit, chopped 1 cup of fair trade mango, chopped 1 cup of melon, chopped 1 cup of fruit (Your choice: blueberries, grapes, strawberries, etc.)

Stir together the wine, brandy, orange juice, and sugar, and refrigerate for two hours. Mix in the chopped fruit and pour over ice. Garnish with a slice of grapefruit. Serves six.

Fair Trade Salsa 6–7 tomatoes, diced 1 white onion, diced 1 jalapeno pepper, diced (remove seeds) 1 bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped 1 clove of garlic, minced Juice of 1 fair trade lime 2 Tbsp of fair trade olive oil 1 Tbsp of fair trade red chilli flakes 1 tsp of fair trade black pepper A pinch of sea salt

Dice the veggies and combine them in a medium bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and lime juice, add chili flakes, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir thoroughly and serve. Or refrigerate up to three days.

Fair Trade Guacamole 2–3 fair trade avocados Juice of 1 fair trade lemon 1 clove of garlic, puréed or minced Sea salt to taste 1/2 cup of diced white onion (optional) 1/2 cup of diced tomatoes (optional)

Mash avocados with a fork in a medium bowl. Mix in remaining ingredients until well blended. Erin Bird is leading the campaign toward Calgary’s Fair Trade designation. CF TN.C A |


book review

Bananeras: Women Transforming the Banana Unions of Latin America By Dana Frank Haymarket Books, 2016 152 pages, $20.95 ISBN: 978-1-60846-535-4 R E V IE W BY W ILL R ICHTER


ave you ever considered how you might bring gender equality to an international union movement without the help of a telephone—much less a computer? Such were the challenges facing the women banana workers of Central and South America in the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s. Fighting for rights in the banana unions first meant fighting for access to basic resources—phones, trucks, computers, even chairs—which were all controlled by men. And that was just one small, illuminating part of the struggle. In Bananeras: Women Transforming the Banana Unions of Latin America, author Dana Frank chronicles the challenges and triumphs of the women who call themselves mujeres bananeras (“banana women”) as they work to shed multiple layers of oppression and gain positions of respect and control within their unions. Their story is at once intensely local—the step-by-step development of a regional women’s movement as it spreads from a small union office in Honduras—and also broadly relatable. Women everywhere will recognize Frank’s description of the grueling toll exacted by the workers’ “double day,” when a long work day is capped off by a second shift caring for children and, often, a man. And in the case of the mujer bananeras, it is quite some work day. Frank describes working up to 14 hours (typically 10 to 12) for six or seven days a week. The women remain standing that entire time, doing dull, repetitive tasks in temperatures ranging between 35 and 40 degrees. In that heat, the air in the packinghouse sheds is dripping wet, the moisture laced with fungicides and pesticides. Frank cites high rates of miscarriage and rare cancers among packinghouse workers, as reported by a regional banana union study. Few women banana workers make it in the job past 40, unable any longer to remain on their feet. Under such conditions, says Frank, a union contract is a vital lifeline. Unionized female workers typically earn equal pay for equal work, whereas nonunionized women often earn up to four times less than men doing identical jobs. Banana unions also protect against sexual harassment and arbitrary

dismissal, and typically provide all-important medical benefits such as prenatal and hospital care. But the banana unions that Frank describes in Bananeras are by no means havens of women’s rights. Until the 1980s, women were entirely shut out of union leadership, and husbands who expected their banana-worker wives to get dinner on the table likewise expected them to stay out of union business. It took women of great persona l streng th and resourcefulness to combat this culture of misogyny, and in Bananeras Frank tells their story with skill, detail, and immense respect. First published in 2005, the book has the benefit of being written when many of the important figures who helped transform the unions in the 1990s and early 2000s were still active. It features women like Iris Munguía, a dynamic force who overcame many challenges to become the first secretary of women for the regional union umbrella organization (COLSIBA), and Selfa Sandoval, from Guatemala, at the time one of the highest-ranking mujeres bananeras in Latin America, who once faced down death threats when she reopened a union hall only days after other union leaders had been kidnapped and beaten by paramilitaries acting in the interests of the Del Monte Corporation. And that, of course, is the great complication that hangs over this story. It is one thing to reform a union when it is a stable, untroubled entity, quite another when it is under constant threat by ruthless transnational banana corporations. But then, from Frank’s telling, the mujeres bananeras don’t seem the type to give up in the face of the seemingly insurmountable. Will Richter is a freelance writer living in Vancouver. His previous contributions to Fair Trade Magazine include "Fairphone Dials up a Fairer Future for the Tech Industry," which appears in the Winter / Spring 2017 issue.

3 0 | F A I R T R A D E M A G A Z I N E ¡ C A N A D A’ S V O I C E F O R S O C I A L S U S T A I N A B I L I T Y


ETHICALLY SOURCED FROM THE FINEST COFFEE LANDS Each of our Signature Collection coffees is made from the world’s finest coffee beans, carefully selected by our master roasters. These delicious coffees are grown with pride to bring you the distinctive aromas of lands rich in culture and flavours. Discover authentic, International Fairtrade certified blends that contribute to an improved quality of life for hard-working coffee producers around the world.