Are ethical FairTrade™ products a fair compromise on quality?

We might support FairTrade™ businesses, but are we compromising quality?

Is the trend for eco-friendly, green products affecting our right to quality goods?

I’m a great advocate of FairTrade products and use them wherever and whenever I can. The principle of money going back to helping the community is a positive attribute. I’m very happy to spend more on a product knowing this is the case.

Morning coffee

l choose to buy FairTrade coffee to offer to clients in my jewellery studios as I’m a supporter of ethical jewellery. However, l worry I’m serving up poor quality coffee as a result.

At home, I’m ashamed to admit we prefer instant coffee. We must have tried about 20 FairTrade brands. But they all feel as if the taste element we crave is missing.

We try to do our bit and drink the FairTrade brands daily because we believe we are doing the right thing. However, we often revert to a leading brand of instant coffee for the taste.

I admit quality is important to me.

So, I’m still on the hunt for a brand that tastes good and allows me to ‘give back’ to the local community.

I also struggle to find FairTrade coffee I can buy in small quantities for our cafetières, whilst maintaining the taste. I’ve found several brands which taste great and which I can buy in large quantities for the espresso machine but not for the cafetière-made coffee. This might be another avenue FairTrade could develop for the café culture.

Ethical accessories

I’m currently working on new packaging for our jewellery and am looking at FairTrade fabric.

The only suitable fabric I’ve found with an eco-friendly label has a slightly ‘hand-made’ feeling of raw weave.

This just isn’t what I’m looking for.

I would love to find a crisp, neat and sharp looking bag in which to package our products as our rings are crisp, sharp and tailored. The raw weave material doesn’t feel as if it complements our bespoke jewellery.

So, the quest for ethical packaging of a high quality continues.

A few years ago, most people who admitted buying FairTrade might have been seen as a bit hippy. I found myself in a minority as I favoured a slick cut and quality seam and wasn’t prepared to compromise on this.

These raw weave materials had a lot of success because they suited people who were interested in nature, the earth and simplicity. Now the FairTrade name is trendy and I’m sure most of us buy FairTrade products. However, I still find some products are very hard to match on quality.

The perfect element

Recently there has been huge progress with pre-certificated fairly traded gold we offer to clients in our jewellery studios.

The exciting thing about this is as gold is an element, there’s no difference in quality between fairly traded gold and conventional gold.

Gold is the same element, however and whoever removes it from the ground. So there will be no compromise on quality in the products made from it. 

Our five-a-day

Recently I found out the UK is the world’s leader in awareness and market take-up of FairTrade products.

FairTrade bananas taste just as good as their competitor. We continue to buy them and other FairTrade products at the supermarket because they are reasonable in price. This is a positive step.

Almost all of us have heard of the term FairTrade and have some understanding in what it means. This is brilliant and as consumers, we should be proud. This also means we are streets ahead of many other countries in this field.

However, I would like to think that one day we will pay for something to be FairTrade and also be satisfied with the quality.

The customer who wants to pay more for something to be fairly traded may also be the same customer who would be happy to pay a little extra again for that product to also be of a better quality.

We are seeing a few high quality FairTrade products appear like this now, but not enough.

Certain industries offering FairTrade goods have further to go than others. We will continue to wait for the eco-friendly outcome.

For more information visit http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/

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