TradeAid for men

By Rob Scovell, in , posted: 11-Feb-2010 22:50

I am a big supporter of Fair Trade stuff. I try to get fairly traded groceries. People should get a living wage for their labour and not be treated like slaves.

But I get annoyed by the limited range of stuff you get in the TradeAid shops. It's mostly little trinkets and things and it seems mostly aimed at women and small children. Fair enough in itself but why can't there be more practical, everyday stuff and the kind of things that guys buy? It's a great place to go for a present for a woman or a girl or a small child and I often do that if I need presents for friends or family. However, TradeAid could be so much more than that.

If I need a new tool or household item I go to the Warehouse or Mitre 10 and buy something made in China. It's the same for gifts for boys. However, I have my doubts about the working conditions in Chinese factories.

Obviously, you couldn't at the moment stock entire Warehouse branches with fair trade stock but it would be good if some sort of start were made. 

I can't believe that fair trade trading partners in the developing world can only make little trinkets. It would be great to go into TradeAid and see (say) a Foosball table or a fishing rod or sports equipment or useful household items. 

They do a few good T-shirts for men there but most of the apparel is for women and children.

The focus on trinkets also makes it feel like just another form of consumerism and of course those trinkets used oil to get here. 

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Comment by Hammerer, on 12-Feb-2010 14:14


I agree about the store merchandise. I used to be a TradeAid regular but there was not much for me to buy except for a limited range of food products.

I've observed two things about TradeAid trinkets:

- Most of the development projects like TradeAid are low tech, low capital, and low skill. So they make things with what they have at hand bags, recycling paper into cards, and ornamental knick-knacks.

Actually, that's also a lot like the stores have been: staffed by unpaid volunteers, often retired people, in cheap locations.

- The people who go to these countries to organise don't really have access to the skills and capital to get such projects off the ground.

The fishing rods they used to make are no longer popular. I had a cane rod 40 years ago but advances in artificial materials ended this low-tech approach.

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