I knew that products could be designated as Fair Trade items and that stores could say they sold or supported Fair Trade products, but a whole city? Let alone a city the size of Toronto.
It started in 1999 in the UK by an Oxfam group in the town of Garstangu to promote Fair Trade as part of a community effort. Add a little media support and soon there was an international campaign.
There are now over 630 such towns in 18 countries, with Wolfville, Nova Scotia among them as Canada’s first Fair Trade Town. Port Colborne ON, Vancouver BC, Canmore AB, Sherbrooke QC are also onboard. And our nation’s capital is also working on it.
Now our local volunteer group, Fair Trade Toronto, is working hard to get our city designated.
The Fair Trade Towns campaign is an exciting initiative that recognizes communities that actively support Fair Trade, increasing both availability and awareness at the local level.
“To become a Fair Trade Town, your community must achieve the following 6 goals….
1. Political Support: The local council uses Fair Trade certified products and supports the Fair Trade Towns campaign.
2. Availability of Products: Stores & restaurants serve Fair Trade Certified products
3. Community Support: Workplaces, faith groups, & schools use and promote Fair Trade Certified products
4. Public Education: Public awareness events and media coverage held on Fair Trade and the campaign
5. Fair Trade Town Committee: A steering group created for continued commitment
6. Public Education: Other ethical and sustainable initiatives promoted within the community”
As I read the rule book, the criteria seems quite attainable. Some examples:
- Someone at City Hall needs to be given the responsibility of championing a Fairtrade commitment and we need a Fair Trade Town Committee with wide representation.
- Mathematically, we need 13 Fairtrade retail outlets plus 1 for every 10,000 residents. So if we are 2.5M then 263 retailers.
- And then there’s promotion. We need media coverage, public events and an ongoing push to “keep the momentum.”
Given that TO is a big foodie town, with lots of focus on the various food movements, I’d think our chances are good for this certification and with the youthful energy of the team behind Fairtrade Toronto I’m sure it’s just a matter of time. To lend your support or find out more, visit: http://fairtradetoronto.ca, http://fairtrade.ca, http://www.fairtrade.org.uk or http://www.facebook.com/FairtradeFoundation.