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New initiative to boost sales of Fairtrade cotton uniforms
08
Jun '12
The Fairtrade Foundation's initiative Step Back to School in Fairtrade Cotton is getting children and young people in UK schools to learn about unfair trade in cotton production by thinking about how their uniforms are made and the impact their choice of clothes makes on the lives of the people who produce the raw materials .

As part of the initiative, pupils are being asked to design the school uniform of the future using Fairtrade cotton with the winning design being made up by a retailer. The 5,000 UK schools taking part will hold dedicated assemblies, fun activities and exhibitions about Fairtrade cotton to flag up their support for the initiative.

Twenty Twelve actress and Fairtrade ambassador Jessica Hynes who is backing the initiative said: 'At the end of the day, I am a mother who wants mothers the world over to realise the same dreams for their children as mine. If that means choosing a Fairtrade cotton school uniform then that's a small way for me to help the women who grew the cotton have enough money to send their own children to school'.

Selling their cotton on Fairtrade terms is one of the few opportunities available to cotton farmers in the developing world to be able to work their way out of poverty. In the UK we spend £1 billion per year on school uniforms, but currently only a tiny percentage of this is Fairtrade. Every Fairtrade cotton school uniform bought by families in the UK represents real benefits such as schools, books, clean drinking water and health clinics for poor cotton farmers who often can't afford to send their own children to school.

MOBIOM, an organic cotton co-operative in Mali, West Africa have earned 50 per cent more by producing and selling organic Fairtrade cotton. As a result, 95 per cent of their children are enrolled in school compared with a national average of 43 per cent. Thanks for the Fairtrade premium, they have been able to fund a number of community projects including a maternity clinic and wells to provide safe drinking water for villagers, significantly reducing the workload of women as they no longer have the time-consuming and strenuous task of collecting water and have more time to undertake other activities. The co-operative has also invested in primary school desks and benches. Members would like to build more schools but this can only happen if they are able to sell more of their cotton on Fairtrade terms.

Step Back to School in Fairtrade Cotton forms part of the Fairtrade Foundation's 'Take a Step' campaign, and to encourage people to register their Fairtrade cotton steps, the Fairtrade Foundation is giving away 50 fabulous pamper goodie bags with lots of Fairtrade products from Fair Naturally, Original Source, Essential Care, Divine Chocolate, Clipper Tea, Lush and Origin Wine. To enter the giveaway, go to www.fairtrade.org.uk/uniform and log your Fairtrade 'step' online – 50 winners will be picked at random on 13 August.

Fairtrade cotton school uniforms can be bought from Marks &Spencer, Tesco, online and from dedicated uniform suppliers. But if you can't find what you are looking for in your local store, speak to the store manager and ask them to order it in.

The Fairtrade Foundation

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