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Fairtrade Fortnight

Thanks for dropping in to see what goodies I’ve got for you today! Make yourself comfortable on the sofa with a cuppa and I’ll begin…

Fairtrade Fortnight is imminently upon us, driving six white horses and wearing pink pyjamas much like yours truly as I write. Ahem. But why, you might ask, is this related to greener healthcare? Well friends, the thing about paying a fair wage is that it helps lift people in more disadvantaged economic climes out of poverty and into a standard of living where they can maintain their businesses, feed their families, and earn enough so that their children can go to school and not have to work for literally pence for Coca Cola picking up discarded bottles (yes, please grab some popcorn and watch BBC’s Panorama if you haven’t already seen it). Actually, a lot of farmers across the globe live in areas that are likely to be most affected by climate-related weather disasters, like severe droughts. So when crops fail in those areas, people are forced to migrate. And when people migrate it affects other communities, causing overpopulation and a stretch on resources like housing, education, healthcare, food etc. If you think this only affects people below the equator, you only have to look at the flood maps to see that that really isn’t true. When the Humber estuary floods by the end of this decade friends, you’d better believe that York and Selby are going to see a mass increase in population.

As well as helping combat poverty, Fairtrade aims to reduce farming methods that have a higher carbon footprint (think pesticides and low crop variety) and are contributing to the climate crisis. It’s a real hefty old vicious circle that we can try to help break.

But back to that brew. Whether you prefer pyramids to pillows, many of us already choose products that are Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance certified in our homes. But who buys for your little office or staffroom kitchen? If it’s you, start taking notes, and if not, can you share this with your procurement person? Ok, let’s start with phenomenal Fairtrade favourites Pukka, TeaPigs, and Clipper (these brands are perfectly plastic-free too, so no harmful microplastics in your tummy!). Most supermarkets sell these and/or their own-brand or Fairtrade tea. And of course don’t forget Co-op which is generally brilliant when it comes to Fairtrade. What’s that you say – you can’t be parted from regional loyalties? Well although not certified Fairtrade, Yorkshire Tea has superb ethics so breathe; it's a thumbs-up from me. And PG Tips are plastic-free as well as being Rainforest Alliance certified.

Now, cover your eyes: I detest tea. I’ve only drunk one cup in my life and that was made for me by a lovely patient so I didn’t have the heart to say no. Luckily I have friends with me in this social-tumbleweed vortex! Coffee on the other hand: yes please. I’m happy to report that at OSMP we’ve discovered Fairtrade choices like Café Direct, Percol, and Co-op coffee, plus numerous other brands. And if you want extra planet points from me, try and get loose beans from a zero waste shop (Yorkies: we have Monk's Cross Asda and Vangarde M&S as well as The Bishy Weigh and The Little Green Weigh), or find a brand whose packaging doesn’t contain more plastic than a Baywatch photoshoot.

It doesn’t just stop at beverages. Does your place of work have a milkman instead of using plastic bottles? Could you provide a dairy-free option in your canteen? Do you have work meetings using outside catering, and if so, do you use local indie cafes or caterers for this, and are you interested in their packaging? And what about the other staffroom staple: The Biscuit? Hmm, bad news here folks – very few options, and unless you can get Tradecraft biscuits, the best you can do is take the wrappers to your local soft plastic recycling point. I do, however, have an alternative sweet fix solution for you: Fairtrade chocolate! Treat yourself to some Tony’s Chocolonely, Seed & Bean, Divine, or Green & Blacks. Aldi sell Moser Roth, and just about everywhere you can buy…drumroll…Maltesers! Fairtrade MALTESERS. Let’s take a moment there folks. Ok so it’s not Crunchie or Mint Aero (please hurry up already!) but what a brilliant stance from a chocolate stalwart. Grab your tutu and get down to the cinema to enjoy a box of these magical malty mouthfuls.

Listen, as with many ethical choices, some shopping switches involve a cost that is prohibitive to small businesses. Please just do what you can and maybe find another little green win: recycle your stamps, collect some old bras to send to charity, or set up office recycling! We can all do a bit more. Large organisations – you are not off the hook. It’s time to come out and set a brilliant example!

So friends, have a quick shufti in your office cupboards and be the coffee crusader, start a Rooibos rebellion or an Earl Grey uprising! Tell us what you have changed this Fairtrade fortnight and give yourself an extra chocolate to celebrate. Or a tub of Ben & Jerry’s – they even do vegan ice-cream…

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