Since the FAIRTRADE Mark was introduced, we have sought to increase the mainstream availability of Fairtrade products. Our Fairtrade firsts include the conversion of all our own-brand block chocolate in 2002 and all our own-brand hot beverages and sugar in 2008. We’ve also identified several opportunities to support growers and producers whose products do not yet have international Fairtrade standards applied to them.
Fairly traded coffins
In 2012, The Co-operative Funeralcare worked in partnership with existing suppliers and Traidcraft to provide fairly traded bamboo and willow coffins. Available to customers in every one of our funeral homes, the coffins are manufactured in Bangladesh, where the raw materials are grown. Local people, working both in the manufacturing facility and farming the raw materials, are benefiting from decent working conditions, fair wages and improved access to markets. For example, Salma (pictured below) who works on weaving and stitching of the coffin handles has used her increased income has helped her to build her own home and send her children to school.
Fairly traded rubber gloves
In 2014, working together with Traidcraft, we launched the world’s first fairly-traded own-brand rubber gloves. The gloves are supplied by a small community of 500 independent rubber farmers in Sri Lanka, who have their own farms and rely on the trees for their livelihoods. Enoka (pictured) is one of 30 members of the local Karanda society which is part of the wider Firstlight project. At the moment she is only producing latex from one of her 2.5 acres of land, as the majority of her trees will not be mature enough for another four years. She is looking forward to better prices through our partnership and hopes that one day the water she collects manually from her well will be pumped and purified for her and her family.
Fairly traded charcoal
The Co-operative launched the world’s first fairly traded charcoal in 2009, working with Traidcraft – the UK’s leading independent fair trade organisation – to help develop independent standards that reflect the recognised Fairtrade model. Produced in Namibia, the fairly-traded charcoal provides valuable employment for around 1,000 producers who travel around vast tracts of untended farmland, using iron kilns to turn FSC® wood into charcoal. The fairly traded status ensures fair wages and good working conditions for charcoal burners and factory workers, who also receive a social premium to help fund community projects. The producers democratically decide how to spend the money for the benefit of the community.
Workers in Okauakondu took the decision to use some of these funds to provide better housing while they work and live in a bush camp, which they do between March and September. Johnny, Nkurunzia (pictured above with his wife and young daughter) is one of these workers. He said "[The new] house is better, it is warmer in the winter. The cold cannot enter".