Bristol University's Fairtrade Network demand 100 per cent ethical cotton at SU shop


By Billy Stockwell, Climate Correspondent

The University of Bristol’s Fairtrade Network have launched a new campaign to demand the University change the SU cotton suppliers to 100 per cent Fairtrade.

According to the Network’s campaign, only 41 per cent of cotton products sold at the Students’ Union shop ‘The Basket’ are from Fairtrade suppliers.

Despite the rest being provided by NUS-approved suppliers, the Network believe that students’ money should not be at risk of funding exploitation within the supply chain.

The campaign also aims to encourage greater transparency in how products are resourced, produced and stocked at the Students’ Union.

The students running the campaign want their demands met before the beginning of the next academic year, when new society merchandise will be ordered in.

Joe Watt, member of the UoB Fairtrade Network, said: ‘As a student body we carry so much influence that can lead to such exciting, positive change.

‘We would love this campaign to be as widespread as possible to show the SU that students care, and refuse to endorse exploitation.’

He encourages students to share and sign the Network’s petition, and follow their social media accounts - @uobfairtradenetwork on both Facebook and Instagram - to keep updated with the campaign’s progress.

Speaking to those at the University with the power to make these changes, he said that ‘there is appetite for fairness in the student body.’

‘We want to help the University become a fairer place where we refuse to advocate for exploitation – and becoming an SU shop that is 100% committed to Fairtrade can and will make a real difference to people across the globe.’

As reported by Epigram last month, the University’s target to achieve Fairtrade University status has been pushed back by a year, with March 2022 being set as the new date to achieve this accreditation.

The COVID-19 pandemic was the reason for the delay, according to the University’s Head of Catering.

This status would recognise the University’s ethical procurement and consumption initiatives, placing Bristol alongside other UK universities such as Oxford, Edinburgh and St Andrews.

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In response to the student campaign, a University of Bristol Students’ Union spokesperson said: ‘We’re passionate about sustainability at Bristol SU, and fair trade is an important part of that conversation.

‘However, The Basket is limited to an extent by the National Union of Students’ suppliers, which is why it is important that this campaign goes beyond Bristol.

‘We’ve already met with the Fairtrade Network and are working with them to see how we can support them with their aims and what we can do together in the future to improve sustainability.’

Featured image: Bristol Uni Fairtrade Network

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