What can you do?

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What can you do to help vulnerable cotton farmers?

You, as a responsible consumer, really can help, and in several ways. So please read on….

Mr Pravakar Meyer speaking at a ceremony to award Odisha school children scholarships funded by the Fairtrade Premium, with Koolskools agent in India, Sreeranga Rajan, looking on.
Mr Pravakar Meyer speaking at a ceremony to award Odisha school children scholarships funded by the Fairtrade Premium, with Koolskools agent in India, Sreeranga Rajan, looking on.

Koolskools met Mr Meyer and many of the Pratima Organic Grower Group members during their recent visit to India. They had many conversations with many cotton farmers, both Fairtrade and non-Fairtrade, and gained a first-hand idea of the plethora of challenges facing these very vulnerable growers.

All the cotton farmers Koolskools met in the region wanted to be members of a Fairtrade co-operative. Pratima could confirm that they have many thousands of farmers literally queueing at their doors to sell their cotton on Fairtrade terms.

But why do Pratima and many other Indian (and other developing country) Fairtrade co-operatives have to keep the lid on their small grower membership numbers?

Simple. There is not enough global demand for Fairtrade cotton. Take the UK for example, where less than 1 per cent of the garments on sale in the shops that contain cotton carry that all-important Fairtrade Cotton Mark.

Here are some of the many ways in which you can help…

Schools

  • If you help run a school, whether you are a Headteacher, a school Governor or a PTA member, make that switch to Fairtrade school uniform.

    Andy of Koolskools with Monica Malet, the Fairtrade teacher at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Aberdeen, plus members of the school’s Fairtrade Committee, after a Koolskools Fairtrade Assembly. St Joseph’s have made the switch to Koolskools Fairtrade cotton uniform!
    Andy of Koolskools with Monica Malet, the Fairtrade teacher at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Aberdeen, plus members of the school’s Fairtrade Committee, after a Koolskools Fairtrade Assembly. St Joseph’s have made the switch to Koolskools Fairtrade cotton uniform!
  • If you are a school teacher, start a Fairtrade group if you don’t already have one, and get the students themselves to lobby the school leadership for Fairtrade cotton school uniform – it can be very rewarding for all concerned!
  • With Koolskools, you will be offered a non-labour intensive Fairtrade educational partnership, where your students will learn all about where the fairtrade cotton comes from, and how buying into Fairtrade and sourcing from ethical factories will enhance their roles as global citizens.
  • If you are a school student or parent, ask your school why it is not actively considering introducing Fairtrade cotton school uniform, and tell them about Koolskools!
  • Remember, there are many different ways of introducing Fairtrade school uniform: consider school leavers’ and school trip hoodies made with Fairtrade cotton; a school polo; a PE polo; or a summer polo if you are a blazer school; 100% Fairtrade organic T-shirts.
  • Small gestures towards Fairtrade cotton by schools can make a massive difference to those impoverished cotton farmers.
  • If you make the Switch to school uniform made with Fairtrade cotton, this will certainly enhance your credentials as a Fairtrade school, on which please see the following Fairtrade Foundation link.

Corporates

Peter Hutchinson of North Link Ferries, a distinguished Fairtrade campaigner, wearing his new Koolskools corporate polo made with Fairtrade cotton.
Peter Hutchinson of North Link Ferries, a distinguished Fairtrade campaigner, wearing his new Koolskools corporate polo made with Fairtrade cotton.
  • If you have embroidered workwear polo shirts for any members of your
    corporate team, or perhaps hoodies, then please think of converting them to Fairtrade cotton.
  • Consider making your company’s gift bags – or aprons if you are in the catering industry – made out of Fairtrade cotton.

Ordinary Consumers

  • Tackle your favourite clothes shops about their cotton sourcing, and ask them why they are not sourcing more Fairtrade cotton!
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