A week of events held last week to mark the national festival of Fairtrade, and the first anniversary of the university achieving Fairtrade status, has been judged a success by campus representatives of the Fairtrade movement.
The festival of Fairtrade Fortnight, which runs until the 18th March, is organised annually by the Fairtrade Foundation to raise public awareness of the Fairtrade brand, as well as celebrating success stories like the University of York.
Last March the University became one of only 15 universities in the UK to gain official Fairtrade status following the City of York itself, which had achieved Fairtrade status in 2004.
The awarding of Fairtrade status was based on it adopting a series of policies laid out by the Fairtrade Foundation, including a commitment to expanding the range of products available to staff and students, as well as the continued promotion of Fairtrade in bars and shops throughout the year.
On campus, the centrepiece of activities last week was a Fairtrade Gig in Derwent Bar attended by over 350 people. Including performances by The Memos, Lowground and Fenna Rhodes & The True Ingredients, the gig also helped play a part in the SU ‘s week of action to support campus bars.
Rachel Cavill of York Fairtrade Forum said, “it is clear that awareness-raising events are key to building support for the Fairtrade mark and what it stands for. The importance of both students and staff at the University forms a big part of this.”
The expansion of the Fairtrade mark from its establishment in 1994 has been dramatic. Retail sales of Fairtrade products reached £195 million last year in the UK alone.
Ric Lander from People and Planet society explained, “the growth of Fairtrade in the last decade or so has been incredible. The challenge now is to achieve universal recognition of the Fairtrade brand and to increase sales beyond established products such as tea and chocolate.”
By Justin Weber