DCU became the first Irish university to receive a Fairtrade certificate on Tuesday, February 26th.
The Fairtrade certificate is an agreement that means the university will choose to stock Fairtrade products at every viable opportunity. Fairtrade companies give significantly more money to farmers and producers than those who produce products that are not Fairtrade.
Sustainability Society events manager Eolann Aiken said: “We had a coffee farmer named Sara Montoya in attendance, she made a really powerful speech about the work of her and her family – who are all coffee producers in Colombia.”
He added: “For me, hearing a farmer’s story in person made a big impact,” and “We’re
lucky in DCU to have a shop manager that’s on the ball and caring like Donnie Christian, and
a super hard working and fantastic Sustainability department run by Sam Fahy.”
Donnie Christian is the retail manager in Londis and the Fairtrade working chair group. He said that Fairtrade contacted them to see about getting that status for DCU.
He said: “I think it’s a wonderful thing to happen on campus… but we need to be educated and understand what it means. If you have Fairtrade coffee in your cup you need to know that it helps someone in Colombia or one of the other coffee countries has now got a clinic or a school.”
Aiken somewhat echoed this sentiment. “I think it’s crucial that we all think about exactly where the food we are buying is coming from, and consider the impact of its journey on both its producers and the planet.”
Christian explained how Fairtrade can help people. He said: “There was a young gentleman who is from a banana farm but he’s in Ireland for the Fairtrade fortnight and he said to us, because of Fairtrade our children don’t have to work, they have a school to go to in the community and then he said that they have a health clinic.”
Globally, trends like climate breakdown impacts the vulnerable. Persistent poverty for tens of millions of farmers (caused by consistently low prices for supplies and abuses of human rights such as slavery) is becoming an ever increasing problem.
Christian said: “If you’re choosing to have a banana that has Fairtrade on it, or a cup of coffee
with Fairtrade on it, you are enabling someone to see a doctor, or a child not to go to work – but to go to school.”
Image Credit: Ryan Carrick