Depending on their age, your children will have likely heard of the term ‘Fairtrade.’
They might have seen The Fairtrade Mark on certain foods in the supermarket or heard the term fairtrade being used in the news. But do they know what it means?
The security of our children’s futures relies on the preservation of the climate. The fairtrade system plays an essential role in promoting sustainable, ethical and climate-friendly practices.
When teaching children about sustainability and climate change, it is important to also ensure they also understand the significance of fairtrade, and what it means for the world around them.
Below, we’ve laid out in simple, child-friendly terms what fairtrade means, and why it is important for the environment. We’ve also included some questions and conversation starters to help you and your children consider the importance of fairtrade in modern society.
Why Do We Need Fairtrade?
Around the world, there are millions of people who are not being paid the right amount of money for the work they are doing.
A lot of these people are farmers, who work hard to provide us with things like food, coffee, flowers and building materials – despite going hungry themselves.
Sadly, around 80% of the people living in poverty globally live in rural areas and rely on farming to make a living – living on as little as $1.25 (95p) a day. They may have to work in unsafe working conditions that might risk their health and safety. Some of the workers may also be children, who are too young to be working.
Often, when you pay for an item – like a banana – very little of the money that you pay actually goes to the person who grew the banana. This is because a lot of the food and goods that we buy are imported from poorer countries, where they have been bought by big companies and then shipped to our supermarkets.
Big companies and organisations try to spend as little money as possible when they are buying food and produce from farmers, so that they can make a profit and keep most of the money they make for themselves.
This means that they often pay farmers much less than they should for their produce – making it an ‘unfair’ trade.
- How would you feel if you only received a little bit of the money for something that you worked really hard to make?
- Do you think you and your family could live on 95p a day?
How Does Fairtrade Help?
Fairtrade exists to make sure that the benefits of trade (and the money made) is shared out more equally, making sure that farmers receive a fair price for everything they sell.
Fairtrade also makes sure that the farmers can work safely and in better conditions, making sure they are old enough and fit enough to do the job.
When working in The Fairtrade system, farmers and workers are paid fairly for the goods they make. Fairtrade workers have a minimum price that makes sure they cannot be paid anything lower than a certain amount for their produce. This stops big companies from underpaying farmers.
Fairtrade prices also make sure that farmers can grow their crops in a sustainable way. This means that farmers can use farming methods that are environmentally friendly and do not hurt the climate or local wildlife and ecosystems.
All the farmers and workers that work under fairtrade are also given something called a ‘fairtrade premium.’ This is extra money – a little bit like pocket money – that is paid on top of the money they are given for their goods.
This money is used by the farmers to invest in their business or can be used to improve their local community – such as building a children’s playground or helping to refurbish a school.
- What are some ways that farming could hurt the environment?
- What kinds of things would you spend your fairtrade premium on?
How Many People Work In Fairtrade?
Overall, there are 1.9 million farmers and workers that are involved in fairtrade worldwide.
These people live and work in 72 different countries and territories and produce more than 35,000 different products that we can find in our supermarkets.
47% if all fairtrade farmers produce coffee that is sold across the globe, while 41% of fairtrade farmers produce beautiful flowers and plants.
Fairtrade has a great impact of the lives of farmers and workers, as well as the environment. Fairtrade means that farmers can put food on their tables, afford healthcare and education, and take control of their lives and their futures.
- Other than coffee and flowers, what kinds of things might these farmers grow?
- If you were a farmer, what would you grow?
How Can You and Your Family Support Fairtrade?
One of the best and easiest ways for people to get involved in fairtrade is to buy fairtrade products at the supermarket.
This means keeping an eye out for the fairtrade sticker, as this will let you know whether the food or product is fairtrade. The fairtrade sticker means that the farmer or worker who made that product was paid a fair price for their work.
Some of the easy-to-spot fairtrade foods and products include:
You could also get involved in different fundraising activities to help support fairtrade and make sure that workers and farmers across the globe also have access to fair pay.
- Download a National Geographic Kids Fairtrade resource here
- Check out CBBC’s Fairtrade Explanation
- Find out how Fairtrade changed Foncho’s Life
- Follow the journey of a Cocoa Bean to a Chocolate Bar
These points should help you explain fair trade for kids in an accessible and informative way, helping to explain the significance of fairtrade for both society and the environment.
However, we know that talking to children about climate change can be challenging at times, see our tips on talking to children about climate change. You can also check out what some of our young people think about climate change here.
At Compass, we work hard to promote sustainable practices across our community. Our community is dedicated to combating issues relating to sustainability and fair practice.
Continue learning with our sustainability commitment.