We all need to eat, drink and wear clothes, don’t we? But what do we know about the products that we buy in shops, in supermarkets or online? As awareness grows, people increasingly want to know more about the products they buy. They want to know how people, animals and our planet are treated when food, drinks and clothes are produced.

Fair trade

The Fairtrade Foundation is based in the UK and helps farmers and workers in poorer parts of the world to earn enough money to live comfortably. The organisation asks companies that grow products such as coffee or bananas to pay fair wages and to provide their workers with good conditions. The companies that follow these requirements then receive the Fairtrade certificate and can sell their products with the Fairtrade mark. About five million people benefit from Fairtrade in fifty-eight countries. More than ninety different products including coffee, tea, bananas, chocolate, cocoa, juice, sugar and honey have the Fairtrade mark. Almost one in three bananas sold in the UK is Fairtrade!

Free range and organic

Free range farmingmeans that farm animals spend time outside rather than being inside twenty-four hours a day. Meat, eggs or dairy products, such as milk or cheese, can be free range. Some experts say that this type of farming is preferable because it is less cruel and the animals are healthier. Many people also think that free range food tastes better and is more nutritious than conventionally farmed food. Organic food is produced using few or no chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Some people feel that organic food is safer or healthier than conventional food and that it tastes better. Both free range and organic food can be more expensive than other types of food but despite this they are very popular in the UK.

Ethical clothing

Fashion is a big global business. Some clothing manufacturers have been accused of employing children and of allowing unsafe conditions in their factories. Following the collapse of a clothing factory in Bangladesh, which killed a large number of workers, the British public have started to wake up to the question of where and how their clothes are produced. After this disaster, a number of brands seen in British shopping centres, including Primark and Marks and Spencer, have made a deal to give money each year to pay for factory inspections and to help make conditions safer for workers. People are becoming more interested in where their clothes are made, who they are made by, and in what conditions. They want their clothes to look good and at the same time to be ethical.

With the help of organisations like Fairtrade, shoppers can make more choices about some of the products they buy.