At the start of the new school term, young people in Wales, the world’s 1st Fair Trade Nation, have started to “Switch their school uniforms to Fairtrade”.
Fair Trade Wales has partnered with Koolskools to provide a fantastic opportunity for Welsh schools to learn about Fairtrade cotton and switch their school uniform to Fairtrade. Ysgol Llanllwni, Pencader in Carmarthenshire and Cathays High School in Cardiff are “first to switch” through a new initiative, which is supported by the Welsh Government’s Wales for Africa Programme.
As part of the Fairtrade Foundation’s Fairtrade School Award, young people in the UK are encouraged to learn about where crops are grown including bananas, tea, coffee, cocoa and cotton.
Over 60 per cent of the world’s cotton is produced by an estimated 40 million small farmers who are some of the poorest in the world. Rising costs of production, fluctuating market prices, decreasing yields and climate change are daily challenges, along with food price inflation and food insecurity.
Fairtrade cotton was launched to put the spotlight on these farmers who are often left invisible, neglected and poor at the end of a long and complex cotton supply chain. Through tools like the Fairtrade Minimum Price and an additional Fairtrade Premium and stronger, more democratic organisations, Fairtrade has sought to provide these farmers with an alternative route to trade and higher, more stable incomes.
“Since Fairtrade, we have helped farmers to increase income. Farmers have bought donkey carts to transport fertilisers and made further investments in oxen. Fairtrade activities have helped send kids to schools and paid school fees” Massatoma, Fairtrade Co-operative MOBIAM, Mali
Cathays High School in Cardiff has placed their first order for 250 Fairtrade cotton polo shirts and over 50 hoodies for their student mentors. The young people are already wearing them with pride, and the school hopes to build on these Fairtrade cotton uniform order levels in the coming months and years. Through school Year Group Assemblies and geography and citizenship classes, they have also learnt from Koolskools – who offer free Fairtrade education programmes for their client schools – about the valuable role they are playing as Global Citizens in wearing clothing made with Fairtrade cotton.
Today, pupils at Ysgol Llanllwni were very excited to receive their order of Fairtrade Cotton hoodies. They are deepening their Fair Trade journey by connecting with growers and producers who grow our cotton and make our clothes. Will we see more schools follow their lead?Mrs Davies, a teacher at Ysgol Llanllwni said: ‘I am happy that we are one of the first schools in Wales to support Fair Trade Wales. The hoodies look great’.
One of the pupils from Llanllwni School said: ‘I’m really excited to wear this cosy new hoody to school’.
Helen Bradley, Education Manager of Fair Trade Wales, said: ‘This project provides a wonderful opportunity for young people in Wales to learn about where and how cotton is grown, and the effort that goes into making school uniforms; it encourages critical thinking and positive action. This is perfect for schools in the world’s 1st Fair Trade Nation, and we are proud of Welsh Government’s commitment to Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship (ESDGC)”
“We are proud to be playing our part in what is a great opportunity to maximise Wales’s ongoing commitment to fair trade and sustainability. We hope more and more schools will take the chance to learn about where things come from and challenge the status quo, using their new-found knowledge to persuade their teachers and parents that Fairtrade Cotton School uniform is the right choice, to ensure that we bring fairness and ethics into the heart of our schools and communities” said Andy Ashcroft, Koolskools
The scheme allows for people to learn all about Fairtrade Cotton Uniforms and place a minimum order with Koolskools. Once the order has been processed and the uniform has been received, a grant of up to £100 will be provided to each school to go towards any difference in price between Fairtrade and non-fairtrade.
Ashcroft said “there is an increasing desire in schools to switch to Fairtrade, but the decision-making process can be lengthy and complicated. So we try to make it as easy as possible for the schools to go through the ordering process once they have taken the decision to embark on the Fairtrade cotton journey with us. There is not usually a difference in price, in some instances we have seen Fairtrade cotton uniforms cost less than non-fairtrade due to economies of scale and an ethical and transparent supply chain. The grant will allow schools to start the process of procuring Fairtrade Cotton uniforms on an initial order, without having to pay the higher costs normally associated with small orders” .
The scheme hopes to support 5 Welsh schools to switch to Fairtrade through the support of Fair Trade Wales with a further 10 being supported directly by Kool Skools. If you would like to be part of the scheme contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 029 20821056.