Fair trade is about workers being paid a respectable amount for their work. It’s about safe working conditions, decent working hours and sick pay, and it’s about avoiding exploitative labour, including and especially child labour.
Fair trade is also about community, and each of our fair trade wholesalers pays a “Fair Trade Premium” to their producers which is to be spent on projects that benefit their communities. Furthermore, fair trade is about respecting the environment, minimising pollution, using sustainable materials, and recycling wherever possible.
Of the items that we buy from wholesalers who are not registered with BAFTS or the WFTO, we only buy from those who have an excellent ethical policy and who visit the artisans regularly to ensure their high standards are still being met. We choose to buy only from those wholesalers who have been importing goods for many years as this shows they are serious about their commitment to the artisans, and it helps to create long-term sustainable family businesses for the people who make the goods we sell.
Other items we sell are made in the UK (that’s the “Near” in Near & Fair). These can be individual handcrafters who make items that benefit the environment in some way, such as our seed cards, or it can be larger companies with excellent ethical policies and happy staff!
We also play our own part in making fair trade possible. We like to pay for our orders before they are dispatched to us as we believe it is good business not to keep a supplier waiting for their recompense. When the invoice arrives with or after the goods, we pay as soon as possible, often within hours. We know that our fair trade wholesalers pay some money “up front” to enable the artisans to purchase the materials they need, and they can do that much easier if retailers like us pay for our orders promptly. We pay all of our other bills in a timely manner, and we will never take on any employees unless we can afford to pay them a real living wage. We believe in treating workers fairly in our own country, too!
We are often asked if we travel to the countries where our products are made. Whilst we agree it is essential that artisans and companies making the products we sell are visited regularly to ensure fair trade principles are continuing to be met and to iron out any problems that may have arisen, as a small family business we feel that our wholesale suppliers, with their decades of experience and much greater resources are better suited than ourselves to carry out this task. Also, by using wholesalers who work with producers in many different countries, we are able to support a much larger number of artisans and offer our customers a wider range of products than if we were restricted to those we could personally visit on a regular basis. Another issue to consider is the environmental impact of such travel. If every retailer were to visit every producer that impact would be huge, as well as costly. By choosing our wholesalers carefully, and following accounts (and seeing fantastic photos) of their visits to producers, we are confident that the items we sell are brought to you fairly. We are happy to answer any questions you may have about the lives and conditions of the workers producing the goods you are considering purchasing. If we don’t know the answers ourselves we will find out from those who have seen the conditions first hand.
We believe all the items we sell have a positive impact on the lives of real people, which in turn means YOUR purchases from us makes a difference too, as without them we couldn’t carry on trading. THANK YOU for buying fair trade and for supporting small businesses.
For more information, read our blog post about the 10 Principles of Fair Trade