News from the UC Sustainability Office

Fairtrade taking flight at UC

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By UC student Sarah Templeton.

Supply of fairtrade products is only just catching up with demand at the University of Canterbury.  Events such as the Fairtrade Market during the country’s ‘Fairtrade Fortnight’ highlighted just how popular ‘buying ethical’ was becoming around UC.

Puck Algera, UC Sustainability Office Projects Coordinator, said the popularity of buying fairtrade reflected growing demand around the wider population. “We’re finding that more and more students actually want to know where their stuff comes from, which is really exciting.”

The biggest impact of fairtrade supply on campus is that all important driving factor of every student: coffee. Christchurch company Jailbreaker Roastery, a branch of the Addington Coffee Co-Op, are supplying six of the major campus cafes; 1894, The Shilling Club, Chilton’s, The Shed, The Collective and Hardhat. They supply organic, fairtrade coffee.20150715_201

John Robertson, one of the key figures behind the roastery, said that fairtrade coffee is becoming increasingly market driven at “a grassroots level”, as drinkers begin to think more about the origins of their latte. “There’s a growing demand for knowing where products come from … with more documentaries, TV shows; there’s stuff that’s making us more aware of these issues.”

Robertson pointed out the impact of buying fairtrade coffee reached far beyond students getting through an all-nighter. “Whatever we’re buying has a global impact and we need to be thinking about how are we treating these people? We need to be careful we’re not buying something that’s detrimental to their wellbeing.”

IMG_1046 vc for smThis sentiment was echoed by passionate student Elise Wilson, who was recruiting volunteers for a new ‘fairtrade student club’ at the market. She said that any extra cost students might pay for purchasing fairtrade was worth it. “It is easy to think it doesn’t affect us but everyone needs to start looking a little bit deeper about where our cheap products are coming from” Wilson said.

This attitude from students was one of the motivating forces for Jailbreaker to supply to UC. Robertson said that it was “awesome” to have the university support their ethical and sustainable business model. “To have that seated in a university; a place of free thinking and looking at different models – it’s a great place to be.”

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Author: Puck Algera - UC Sustainability Office

Puck worked at the Sustainability Office at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. As the Sustainability Projects Coordinator, she kept busy with student and staff engagement, providing strategic input and advice and organising sustainability-focused events.

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