The Fairtrade banana farmers I visited in Ghana twelve years ago have since built schools, clinics, health insurance and much more with their Fairtrade premium - thanks to the hard work and dedication of farmers together with the shoppers over here buying Fairtrade. But, more importantly, the workers feel empowered knowing they are selling their bananas on better terms of trade. This Fairtrade Fortnight we're calling on the government to work with supermarkets to treat all banana farmers and workers fairly.
After the Rana Plaza disaster last April, consumers could see first hand how their appetite for cheap clothes fuels exploitative working conditions amongst the poorest people on Earth. 2013 became the year that the industry were forced to reevaluate the efficacy of their corporate social responsibility policies.
A few weeks ago I swapped my usual stomping ground of Oxford for a similarly beautiful location, Brussels. I was fortunate enough to be taken as part of a collective of NGOs and charities to the European Union; a life changing experience in itself. We went there to talk about something else that is life changing for entirely differently reasons; land grabs.
I know that in just under two months my youngest will be in a new year at school and I'll need to kit her out with a new school uniform. We make a choice but often don't stop to think about where our cotton comes from. Often it's grown by women in West Africa and India who struggle to send their own children to school.
This month we celebrate World Fair Trade Day, a campaign spearheaded by People Tree, a fair trade fashion label. But are People Tree making the move to a fair trade culture more difficult by charging nearly £100 for their dresses? If you're on a low income is fair trade fashion ever possible for you?
I'm a salted peanut lover and a couple of years ago I came up with the idea for a Fairtrade peanut line called Harry's Nuts! I knew this wasn't something I wanted to make money out of - it was something I wanted to do to take my extra step to support Fairtrade. I got interested in Fairtrade in 2002 when I went out to Ghana with my brother Rod, who's a farmer in Devon, to see how it all works on the ground. We met banana and cocoa farmers and saw the real change that is possible just by changing how we shop. They grow it, sell it for a fair price and we look out for the Fairtrade mark and buy the stuff in the shops. Simple, yet genius.
It all started with one rather confused little owl. A Bit Lost, the first picture book by Irish illustrator and children's author Chris Haughton was published by Walker Books in 2010. That title has earned him a clutch of awards and his latest, Oh No, George!, has the same child-friendly combination of bright colours and a dash of humour.