For cosmetics to carry the FAIRTRADE Mark, all ingredients that can be certified Fairtrade, must be sourced from Fairtrade certified producers under Fairtrade terms. The actual mandatory minimum Fairtrade content is quite low – 2% in wash products like shampoo and 5% in ‘leave on’ products. That’s really a reflection of how few suitable cosmetic ingredients are available as fair trade – bananas and coffee aren’t that well suited to most skin care formulations!
We actually have to do much more than use Fairtrade ingredients and approve the formulations and packaging designs with the Fairtrade Foundation. Another purpose of being a Fairtrade licensee is to add value and provide other benefits for Fairtrade farmers. For us this has been helping with market information and research, as well as promoting awareness of the farmers, cooperatives and producer groups.
This added requirement really appealed to me following my own first hand encounter with how Fairtrade helps farmers began on holiday in 2005. I visited a coffee plantation in Panama that supplied Starbucks with Fairtrade and organic coffee. Now they could have wheeled out the happy, healthy looking workers especially for the tour, but I didn’t get that feeling. There was a stark contrast with other farms I hiked past where the workers clearly looked undernourished, not to mention probably sick from the noxious pesticides emanating from the spray guns in their backpacks.
We'll talk more about the fair trade producer groups and cooperatives we buy from in future blogs.