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Ethical Buying Policy
The New Internationalist (NI) exists to report on issues of world poverty and inequality; to focus attention on the unjust relationship between the powerful and powerless worldwide; to debate and campaign for the radical changes necessary to meet the basic needs of all, and to bring to life the people, the ideas and the action in the fight for global justice
As a publisher the main resource that we consume is paper and so we aim to print all our publications, including the magazine, on recycled paper. A few of our publications on this site are not on recycled paper, for example we may not be the main publisher in a joint publication or an emergency print-run may have been required. If not recycled we aim to print on paper which is produced from managed forests with no use of chlorine in the bleaching process. Most such forests have in recent years joined the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) which guarantees that the wood used is from a sustainable source.
With the other gifts that we have bought to sell on this site we have looked for products that:
- Are made of durable, non-toxic, organic or recycled materials.
- Are powered by renewable energy.
- Support all participants in the supply chain fairly.
Look out for the following signs and key words throughout the website:-
Printed on recycled paper
Printed on environmentally-friendly paper
Fairly Traded (see below)
We are continuing to develop and improve our ethical buying policy. Please send any feedback you have to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope that you enjoy shopping with us.
for the New Internationalist Co-operative
WHAT IS FAIR TRADE?
As anyone who has read the No Nonsense Guide to Fair Trade will know this is a difficult question to answer. There are two major internationally accepted fair trade organisations. Members of the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO) have demonstrated that they have a 100% commitment to Fair Trade in all their business activities. These organisations carry the WFTO logo and generally police international fair trade. One of their members is the British Association of Fair Trade Shops (BAFTS) who produce a list of those UK organisations which it regards as being fair trade importers. The Fairtrade Labelling Organisation (FLO) then registers particular products to carry the well known fair trade symbol; in UK this is done through the Fairtrade Foundation. For many years the New Internationalist has been critical of the increasing role of multinational companies in the fair trade movement. Many people inside the movement are now (2012) joining in these criticisms as recent blogs from fair trade commentators David Ransom and Paul Deighton explain.
But, here are some positive voices:
‘Carlos Vargas, a coffee-grower from Costa Rica says: “By supporting fair trade you support democracy in our country” because they get together as a co-op and decide how to spend the premium. This is well paralleled by the flourishing of fair trade towns, universities, schools, churches and synagogues in the UK. We can’t keep up! It’s a grassroots social movement pushed forward by people all the time. It’s got energy and enthusiasm because it’s something concrete and achievable that people can do locally to help change the world for the better.’
Harriet Lamb, Director, Fairtrade Foundation. www.fairtrade.org.uk
‘I represent growers on the board of Cafédirect. We are asking them for some capital so that instead of sending our tea to a factory we can own our own factory. When you are exporting tea leaves you only get 5 per cent of the profit, but if you own the factory the profit is about 40 per cent.’
Lazaro Mwakajila, Chairman of the Rungwe Small Tea Growers’ Association in Tanzania. www.cafedirect.co.uk
‘For better or worse, as soon as Dunkin’ Donuts has fair trade espresso it does open doors. It’s a mistake to discount the impact of things just because you don’t agree with the motives of the people doing it.’
Pauline Tiffen, co-founder of Cafédirect and Divine chocolate.
And here are some that are not so positive:
‘Fair trade is a European phenomenon. It’s just replacing the middleman, so that now middle-class NGOs can get a piece of the capitalist action. Perhaps “fair trade” is a description of the colour of their skin?’
Firoze Manji, co-Director of Fahamu, a pan-African organization supporting the struggle for human rights and social justice in Africa. www.fahamu.org
‘The term “fair trade” is a ridiculous over-exaggeration. It’s not right to say the relationships are fair – they are not. The consumer lives in a different world from that of the producer in terms of opportunity, wealth, freedom, healthcare, etc. We need a much more profound change in the world before we can honestly stand before a producer and say that our relationship with one another is “fair”.’
Roy Scott, One Village, which since 1979 has sold craft-made articles in partnership with craftmakers’ co-ops. www.onevillage.org
‘Awareness about fair trade and therefore the acceptance that there is unfair trade has been enormous. But the concept of solidarity, which was at the heart of fair trade as it existed before labelling started, has somehow been lost. So it’s possible for you to buy a fair trade product without you having any sense of engagement or involvement with the producer community.’
Stan Thekaekara, founder of Just Change, which links communities in India and around the world and encourages them to trade amongst themselves. www.justchangeindia.com
How does New Internationalist decide what to buy?
Whilst many of our suppliers are registered with one of the above organisations we don’t insist on it; some suppliers can’t afford it, some are just starting out, some are too small, and some just don’t want to.
Our approach is to meet all our suppliers, to talk to them and check what they are doing. We buy very few products at source, preferring to work with importers who have direct links with the producers. We establish that our suppliers know who makes their products, and the conditions in which they are made. In nearly all cases we talk directly to people who have visited where the products are made. We don’t always insist that the products are made by a community association; some are made in small family businesses, especially when our supplier is just working in a single village. Having satisfied ourselves that our purchase will bring real benefit to the community where the items are made we term the products ‘fair trade’. Then, as an insurance, we insist that all suppliers are listed on this website. This means that our customers know where their products come from, and then if they have any questions about the ethics we will be pleased to investigate and report back.