PEOPLE across the Isle of Man are being encouraged to show off, as the island celebrates its third year as a Fairtrade Island.
Fairtrade Fortnight began on February 28 and runs until March 13 and this year the theme is all about being loud and proud about how you support Fairtrade.
There are a number of activities happening locally to mark Fairtrade Fortnight.
Schools and churches are holding events, including Fairtrade lunches, assemblies and selling Fairtrade Easter eggs.
Retailers including the Manx Cooperative and Oxfam, will have special offers on Fairtrade products and the One World Centre and the Manx Cooperative have organised a free public presentation today (March 1) at the Manx Museum, Douglas, by the Global Poverty Project – an organisation campaigning for an end to extreme poverty and highlighting ways we can make a difference, like buying Fairtrade.
To achieve Fairtrade Island status the Isle of Man had to meet five criteria, which included governmental support, a specific number of retailers, church groups and schools using and promoting Fairtrade products, and a local steering group to ensure the community has a genuine awareness of Fairtrade and what it means.
Cheryl Cousins from the Fairtrade Island Initiative said: ‘Shops like Shakti Man in Ramsey have shown that Fairtrade products can be beautiful, affordable and great quality.
‘You can now buy Fairtrade right across the island, from the health food shop in Castletown to Igi’s café on Loch Promenade.
The Cooperative, which has a shop in every town, recently launched a major programme which promises that “if it can be Fairtrade, it will be Fairtrade”.
‘What’s exciting is that across the island more and more people are choosing to buy something with the recognised Fairtrade mark because they know that it means the producer has received a fair deal – that’s a positive sign of an outward looking community that we should be proud of!’
The Fairtrade Island Initiative keep a directory of where to find Fairtrade products locally and currently recognise more than 40 retailers, 17 cafes and 44 church groups.
In the past year, three Manx schools obtained Fairtrade school status and the Diocesan Synod voted to work towards becoming a Fairtrade Diocese by next year.
Kristina Crawford, assistant to the head of sixth form at St Ninian’s High School, said: ‘Celebrating Fairtrade Fortnight is really important for us as a school as we are very proud of our Fairtrade school status.
‘The understanding of Fairtrade our students gained through the process of becoming a Fairtrade school, and in maintaining that status, is invaluable for them as global citizens.
‘Buying Fairtrade is a simple thing that every student and every one of us can do, and by making that choice we are helping to give 7.5 million people in the developing world a more secure future.’
The past 12 months have been busy on the Fairtrade front. The Fairtrade Island Initiative held a celebration in Strand Street, Douglas, with Fairtrade freebees, quizzes and campaigns.
A Proud to be a Fairtrade Island car sticker was launched in May and a ‘Revolutionary’ Fairtrade poster campaign featuring local people was created for Tynwald Day.
Last October, Norma Velazquez, who has been working with Fairtrade alpaca producers in the highlands of Peru for more than 10 years, visited the island, speaking to the government, retailers and the public as well as sixth formers in all the secondary schools.
Norma brought first-hand accounts of how the Fairtrade movement is helping small-scale producers around the world fight their way out of poverty, explaining the other side of the story.
Cheryl explained: ‘The most effective way to get more people to understand the true value of Fairtrade is for supporters to spread the message and tell their friends why they look for the mark when they’re shopping.
‘So be proud of our island’s status this Fairtrade Fortnight and celebrate your favourite Fairtrade products!’