Well, I had to look it up myself, Fortunita. It’s called Mauritius and its a very small island to the east of Africa. In fact, it doesn’t really show up on our map, so I’ve put down these two markers to stand for Mauritius and its neighbour to the west, Reunion. I’m learning a lot already, because I was never much good at geography. Andy is going to take me to meet the people at Craft Aid, who are working on Fairtrade school uniforms, amongst other things. I’m really looking forward to it and I’ll blog all about it once we get there.
Why did FT go on his journey? Well, way back on my first post, you may recall I asked if you knew when Aberdeen became a Fairtrade city? The answer is 2004. In the time since then, we have done so many things to try and spread awareness of Fairtrade and to encourage many more people to buy and use the products. But the award was to the people of Aberdeen, not just the Steering Group, not just the council, nor the churches, nor Aberdeen for a Fairer World, the local Fair Trade organisation. We wanted to find a way of reaching more of the people of Aberdeen and FT Banana’s journey, however barmy it may seem, has reached more readers than any of our other efforts at raising the profile of Fairtrade.
There are lots of ways that you can support Fairtrade and you can read about some of them in our City Pledge scheme here http://bit.ly/13Ftpledge
NorthLink Ferries is a good example of a business that is really making efforts to raise awareness of Fairtrade by using the products wherever possible and by supporting the city’s Fairtrade events and publicity. Perhaps you know of others and also of churches, schools and shops that are taking their own Fairtrade journey. FT Banana would love to do some more visiting, if so.
Time to jettison the helmet and take a little rest. This banana has been incredibly busy over the last few days. FT Banana sailed from Aberdeen on the Hrossey, accompanied by Peter Hutchinson, Senior Manager Vessel Support Services. On arrival at Hatston he was welcomed by Gill Smee and Lorna Penny from Orkney Fair Trade Group, and presented with a “Buy Fair and Buy Local in Orkney” flag, which he carried with him on the rest of his travels. And Peter presented his staff with their brand new Fairtrade shirts. Then it was off to Stromness to be tucked up safely aboard the Hamnavoe, all ready for an early morning sailing to Scrabster and back. After distributing more shirts, they went through to Kirkwall via the Standing Stones, for a well-earned cup of coffee at Trenabie’s, and a chance for Pet er to exchange ideas with proprietor Leanne Rendall. Trenabie’s is one of Orkney’s best-established Fairtrade outlets – and they supply free take awa. ys of their Fairtrade coffee grounds for use in the garden too!
Next stop was the Council Offices, where FT and Peter met with Hayley Green, Head of Support Services, for a discussion on ethical procurement – how to make sure that local products and suppliers, Fairtrade goods, and environmentally friendly processes all feature strongly in business contracts: a shared ambition for Northlink and Orkney Islands Council. Last stop for the duo was Radio Orkney to make a quick news item. In our next post we’ll look at what the journey was all about and how we can go forward with our Fairtrade City campaign.
One of the reasons that FT Banana is travelling on the Ferry is to draw attention to NorthLink’s new policy of buying Fairtrade bananas. Bananas are big sellers; among the supermarkets’ largest profitmakers, yet only the Co-op and Sainsburys stock all Fairtrade. Well, I suppose Waitrose does too, but as they haven’t managed to make it to the North East, yet alone Orkney, I think we can discount them at the moment. NorthLink now also buys its bananas from Fairtrade sources. They tell me that they have to buy them very green, to allow them to ripen during the voyage.
Many of our bananas come from the Windward Islands and it was from St Lucia that Conrad James, a banana producer, visited Aberdeen in 2007 during Fairtrade Fortnight. He explained to us how being part of the Fairtrade system had meant that he was able to send his children to school and his life had improved substantially. Later that year there was a huge hurricane in the area and it was only those farmers like Conrad, who had long term Fairtrade contracts, that were able to put their lives back on track fairly quickly. It is always good to put faces to the actual Fairtrade stories.
During Fairtrade Fortnight in March this year, FT introduced Peter Hutchinson of NorthLink Ferries to Andy Ashcroft, who runs Koolskools, a company that sources ethical clothing. Andy was visiting the North East with Pamela L’Intelligent, a machinist from Mauritius, who told many audiences her story of how Fairtrade had helped her to escape poverty. Andy was able to help Peter source smart new polo shirts for the ferry company, made from Fairtrade cotton and sporting the Fairtrade logo. The shirts are being introduced for the ferry staff and, as you can see, Peter is modelling one here. I don’t think they make them in FT’s size.
If you would like to know more about Fairtrade clothing, have a look at Andy’s corporate website:-
FT Banana is the mascot of Aberdeen Fairtrade, the campaigning group that works to keep Aberdeen City’s Fairtrade status. He is visiting Orkney on NorthLink Ferries and will be sailing today at 6pm. There are lots of exciting things happening in Orkney around Fairtrade and also some interesting developments with NorthLink Ferries, one of Aberdeen’s most active businesses on the Fairtrade scene. Here’s FT ready to sail. In case you are wondering, that is an attempt at a Viking helmet sitting rather awkwardly on his head over his own tammy. I am not exactly a wizard with duct tape and cardboard. Here’s a question for you: when did Aberdeen become a Fairtrade City?