Sunday, March 22, 2009

Fair Trade and Climate Change

For very good reasons there has been a lot of discussion lately about the contribution a product's food miles makes to climate change. At First Ray we are obviously very passionate about caring for our environment too, however we thought we'd take this opportunity to dispel some of the misconceptions associated with fair trade, food miles and climate change. (Article extracted from First Ray website 23/03/2009)

sea freight
Most Fairtrade products are transported by air - FALSEMost Fairtrade certified products and all of our products are shipped to Australia by sea. Per mile, international shipping is less carbon intensive than air freight.

Food miles are the biggest element of a product's carbon footprint - FALSE
Transportation is usually a small proportion of the overall carbon footprint of a product. The carbon footprint includes the method of growing and production, how and where it is sold, the customer journey, the packaging, consumption and final disposal. To draw on UK research - air freight is 0.1% of total carbon emissions, and transportation of Fairtrade products in 2005 was estimated to be just 0.03% of food mile emissions.
foot print

tea budsBuying locally is always better for the environment - FALSEWhilst buying in season from sustainable local producers can be a very positive way of reducing impact on our climate, it's important to consider not just where a product comes from, but how it has been produced, including use of land, chemicals, hothouses or natural resources. Many everyday items such as
sugar cane, cotton, cocoa, coffee and tea are grown in tropical climates of developing countries with minimal use of carbon-producing energy.

Buying Fairtrade products can help to tackle climate change - TRUE
Buying products from developing countries is vital for their economic and social development and provides a livelihood for millions of farmers and workers. With premiums from Fairtrade, farmers can implement environmental protection programmes that will benefit all of us. In India, tea farmers have invested part

of the Fairtrade premium in a solar panelled heating system for the local health centre, replacing the wood burning one. They have created their own communal compost heap which is used organic fertiliser for the tea bushes.

Source: FTAANZ Fair Square Newsletter (Spring 2007)
So next time you're out somewhere and wondering whether you should support a fairtrade product, even though it may not have been grown or produced locally, we hope your answer is a big and resounding YES!

Learn More and Get Involved
If you'd like to learn more about fair trade or get involved, we recommend some of the following organisations and sites:
Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand -
Fairtrade Foundation -
Make Poverty History -

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