In the spring of 2003, the then Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, launched a campaign to make London a Fairtrade City. London, England’s capital city, is home to some 7 million people (within the area known as Greater London), and also contains some wonderful architecture, buildings, construction and design of all kinds.
Within this context, the campaign to make London a fairtrade City was born. As a multi-cultural environment, with many different ethnic communities living side by side, the City was ripe to support the ethics of the campaign for fairtrade products.
To date, 15 boroughs and 5 universities within the Greater London area have signed up to the campaign, and achieved fairtrade status. This means that they will be using only fairtrade products where possible in their canteens, business’s, staff areas, and shops.
Fairtrade Across the City
The aim of the campaign and its steering group is to get fairtrade products, ranging from tea, coffee, and chocolate to many non food items as well; in place and for sale across every public and private institution in the city.
The Houses of Parliament now serve fairtrade products in their restaurants – the most famous London building that stands majestically alongside the River Thames has now gone fairtrade!
Other buildings and institutions that already stock and use fairtrade products, or are being recruited as part of the campaign, include schools, shops, churches, synagogues, town halls, pubs, police stations and libraries. The bishop of London, Dr Richard Chartres, is a keen supporter of fairtrade, as is Rabbi Janet Burden, rabbi of Ealing Liberal Synagogue. Both these religious figures have pioneered fairtrade products being used in their faith buildings, and are instrumental in encouraging other places of worship within the City to do the same. Other faith buildings that are fairtrade include St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, and Finchley Progressive Synagogue.
Fairtrade Products Available Across London
As you might expect, a City with as large and as diverse a population as London has a lot of fairtrade products on offer within its many shops and businesses. There are now approximately 2,000 different fairtrade products available in London.
Within the range of fairtrade foods, Indian and East African tea, chocolate from Ghana, wines from Argentina, Chile and South Africa, Ethiopian Coffee, sugar sourced from Malawi and Zambia, peanuts from Malawi, fruit from Cuba, and cacao and bananas from Costa Rica, are all available for purchase in London, to list just a few.
Within the non food product range, organic cotton fairtrade bags made in a textile factory building in Pondicherry, South India, are just one example. Other include: cotton cleaning cloths, ‘green’ knickers made from organic fairtrade cotton, hoodies and sweatshirts, handbags made from Cambodian rice sacks and plates made from leaves, brass necklaces made by fairtrade co-operatives in Kenya, and children’s toys made from natural resources from a co-operative in Madagascar.
The sky is really the limit with fairtrade food and other products that are available to purchase within the City of London and its many boroughs: its up to the consumer to search the city and hunt down these fabulous fairtrade goodies for themselves!