Qinnie Wang would like to make a “fair trade” with Victorian Labor Leader Daniel Andrews with regards his election funding announcement about Ethical Clothing Australia.

Last week, as part of the Victorian Election 2014 campaign, Daniel Andrews announced a $2 million plan to fund Ethical Clothing Australia, which was abandoned by the Federal Government in June 2014.

I say it’s great, but maybe the money could be better spent elsewhere.

As much as I love ethical fashion, I don’t think it needs to be separated from its big brother, fair trade. Some people are confused between fair trade and ethical fashion. In an article that I wrote on my website, I explained that ethical fashion is a relatively new movement with a focus on fashion, and that, unlike fair trade, it does not need to be produced in developing countries. In essence, fair trade and ethical fashion share more similarities than differences. It makes sense to have one accreditation scheme that unites the voices of Australian ethical businesses and provides consumers with useful information and confidence in the products. It can include both overseas and local products, food and fashion, as long as the entire production process is ethical.

The Fair Traders of Australia is an accreditation program of the Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand that endorses local businesses that are committed to an Australian standard for fair trade. There are currently sixteen endorsed Fair Traders of Australia, with many more to be assessed. Some have been around for a long time (like Oxfam) and others have been started by individuals who are passionate about fair and sustainable living. Among the endorsed Fair Traders, Eternal Creation is an ethical fashion label that has been around for 15 years. My own charity, Oz Fair Trade, is currently going through the endorsement process and I have found the Association to be very helpful and friendly.

While it is great to have initiatives such as Ethical Clothing Australia, Shop Ethical and Otter to help people make more ethical purchase decisions, I believe that a single well-known body will be better positioned to promote the fair trade and ethical fashion movement in Australia.

As for the accreditation scheme, it is often costly (especially for small businesses) to undergo the process and multiple accreditations only add to the cost and confuse consumers. For example, they might ask why a brand is accredited under one scheme but not the other.

The fair trade movement, which started in the 1940s, did not really gain momentum until the establishment of Fairtrade labelling (for food) and the World Fair Trade Organisation (for handicraft producers). They are now both widely-recognised fair trade accreditations and have been successful in helping producers in developing countries achieve better trading conditions, in promoting sustainability and in educating consumers about the power of individuals to change the world. I think a large part of the success is that they are widely accepted worldwide.

Similarly, it is much wiser to invest in and promote just one accreditation program. While I love Ethical Clothing Australia and what it has achieved in four years, I prefer to see funding going into the Fair Traders program to expand its accreditation to include locally made food, fashion, handicrafts and many more.

 

fair trade

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To celebrate being a year old, we want you, the readers, to help us decide the articles you loved best during our first year and to encourage you  to participate, we are giving away three prizes!

All you have to do is look through our archives of content and email us your favourite article and also if you want, the one you weren’t so up with. From the submissions, we will assess the most-loved content from our first year and republish it at the end of our birthday month.

Both writers and readers are encouraged to enter (No, Paris, you cannot nominate your own articles…#justsaying), so please email us at admin@thebigsmoke.com.au by 30th November to enter! Please include your name, address and mobile number.

And the prizes are…(did we mention there are prizes…?)

First prize: A brilliant acting course based in Sydney and hosted by Darlo Drama worth $550!

Second prize:  A gift pack from our friends at Booktopia

Third prize: Four movie passes

(Plus watch out for a couple of of other competitions during our birthday month!)

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