How Committed Am I to Fair Trade?
Imagine you are in Church on a Sunday morning, as the sermon gets going. You are settling your mind. If the preacher is interesting and agrees with you, you will listen. If the topic is not so fascinating you drift away, thinking of what you will do tomorrow or why someone in your line of vision doesn’t dress better for church.
Suddenly the preacher is asking the congregation a question, not just rhetorical, but expecting a response from everyone. That’s as unheard of as clapping the sermon.
What’s the question? That’s easy. Stand up everyone who thinks fair trade is a good idea. Of course it’s a good idea. I’ve heard about that before and it’s being repeated now. “Fair wages, good working conditions. Environmental sustainability.” Yes, of course. I expect my grandkids to be treated well in their after school jobs. Some employers would rip them off if they could get away with it. Yes. I’ll stand up. Looks like just about everyone is on their feet if they are able.
Another question? Does this congregation use fair trade tea and coffee at morning tea after church? I don’t know. Whoever buys it probably gets what’s cheapest and most convenient. Some might say they don’t like a particular brand and I know the morning tea people try to please.
Another question. Stay standing if you buy fair trade tea and coffee for use at home when you think about it or when it’s on special or when you find it on the shelf in the supermarket but not otherwise.
A fourth question. Stay standing if you intentionally purchase only fair trade tea and coffee and chocolate, even if it means going to a different supermarket if your regular one doesn’t stock it. And that you intentionally seek ethically sourced clothing?
Not many standing now?
In 2013 the meeting of the Uniting Church Synod of NSW.ACT agreed to a resolution that all churches and church agencies use fair trade products and actively promote fair trade amongst its members*. The resolution was carried by consensus which means that every person in the meeting of several hundred agreed to the proposal.
As far as I can ascertain nothing much happened following that meeting.
Research indicates that although many Australians think buying fair trade and ethically sourced products are a good idea, far fewer put that intention into practice.
In the May 30, 2014 issue of ‘SmartCompany’, Broede Carmody reported on research conducted by McCrindle on behalf of Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand. They ‘found eight in 10 shoppers would be more likely to purchase a product that supports someone in need over one that did not have a charitable aspect—as long as the price and quality between the two were similar.’ Further the study also found ‘Seven in 10 Australians also said ethical products were good value for money.’
The Fair Trade Faith Conference will be full of ideas and strategies to help us, as they say, ‘put our money where our mouth is.’
Resolved That the Synod (i) adopt the following ‘Goals for a Fairtrade Congregation’ (a) use Fairtrade tea and coffee for all meetings for which you have responsibility (i.e., after church, elders and church council meetings, etc.);
(b) ensure that other products which are used regularly in church gatherings are Fairtrade or ethically sourced;
(c) promote Fairtrade in the local community through activities which are locally designed; and
(d) encourage each congregation to adopt the same policy (support and promote Fairtrade as a concept; encourage the use and sale of Fairtrade products), and to display literature/notices advertising the fact that Fairtrade products are used and served there
(i) adopt the following ‘Goals for a Fairtrade Synod’
(a) That the Synod (i) support and promote Fairtrade as a concept;
(ii) encourage the use and sale of Fairtrade products across the Synod; and
(iii) serve only Fairtrade products (such as coffee and tea) at meetings it is responsible for;
(b) set a goal that Fairtrade tea, coffee and other products, if possible, will be used and/or sold by more than 50% of the congregations in the Synod by the next full meeting of Synod;
(c) develop a media campaign to generate popular support for the use of Fairtrade − make reference to the Fairtrade status of the Synod on its website, in promotional materials and literature, and encourage congregations to do likewise; and
(d) revitalise the NSW UCA Fair Trade Network, to operate as a Fairtrade steering group to take responsibility for monitoring that goals continue to be met and are developed over a period of time.