Idea: Fair trade campuses

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hopefully you know where to get fair trade goods on campus. Café Alt sells fair trade coffee exclusively, Chartwells locations have at least one choice that is fair trade. T-shirts purchased through the SFUO are fair trade...Not much else is offered on campus that’s fair trade.

Have you ever heard of Fair Trade Towns? It’s a campaign that essentially creates standards for a town to go entirely fair trade. There are criteria that a town must achieve, like passing a resolution at city council in support, and to using only fair trade coffee and tea at meetings and in the office. It’s then up to the businesses to offer fair trade products, and if enough do, you’re closer to becoming a fair trade town. Attract some media coverage and strike a steering committee devoted to planning for the future, and you have yourself a fair trade town.

We can replicate this model on university campuses. The student union and the administration passing motions and devoting themselves to fair trade products at official meetings and events, offering a variety of products for sale, and working towards increased awareness about fair trade. Seems pretty easy!

You can find uOttawa’s policy on ethical purchasing here:
There is discussion about fair trade by both students and campus community members – so we are headed in the right direction. Clear standards and a stronger stance on purchasing need to be implemented. Universities buy a lot, and if a push to be entirely fair trade on certain goods is made, we can make a wave.

Here is the checklist for a fair trade campus:
  1. The Student Union (or equivalent) and the university or college authorities both create a Fairtrade policy incorporating these five goals.
  2. Fairtrade foods are made available for sale in all campus shops. Fairtrade foods are used in all cafés/restaurants/bars on campus. Where this is not possible, there is a commitment to begin to use Fairtrade foods in these establishments as soon as it becomes possible to do so.
  3. Fairtrade foods (for example, coffee and tea) are served at all meetings hosted by the university or college and the Student Union (or equivalent), and are served in all university or college and Student Union management offices.
  4. There is a commitment to campaign for increased Fairtrade consumption on campus.
  5. A Fairtrade Steering Group is established.

Going fair trade on campus sets an example for more ethical practices and helps move other campuses forward. Students have been pushing fastest on this front they are leaders in the environmental and human rights movements. United Students Against Sweatshops ( is an example of one organization pushing for ethical purchasing at the university level. Many others exist.

More info on fair trade campuses, click here
-sarah jayne

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