There are still many places in the world where workers and crafts people do not earn anywhere near a fair wage for the work that they do. We can all help to stop this by trying to buy fairtrade products wherever possible. It’s not necessarily just supermarket products that are fairtrade. Some of the best and most interesting percussion instruments are produced outside of factories. They are often made in Africa or Indonesia and offer great quality at a fraction of the price you can pay for more standard instruments.
Many fairtrade instruments are made with materials including seeds and coconut shells. They have many sounds and shapes which are unusual to us and children love them. Each instrument is unique as they are usually hand crafted. They are often carved, etched or painted and the symbols you see may have been handed down through each family for many generations.
How can you ensure that the instruments you are buying are really Fairtrade?
A lot of Fairtrade products carry the Fairtrade Foundation logo. There’s loads more info on their website. The other leading Fairtrade organisation in the UK is the British Association of Fairtrade Shops. They only admit shops whose products are at least 70% fair trade and who can meet all of their stringent guidelines.
Even if you don’t see this logo, it doesn’t mean you aren’t buying
fairtrade. What really matters is how the product is made, what environment the makers live in and whether they receive an acceptable wage for the work that they do. It’s also important that children are not forced to work long hours and that they have the chance to go to school. If it isn’t clear what makes the product ‘fairtrade’, have a chat to your supplier. They should be able to explain exactly where they get the products from and, if they are from a distributor, they should have information about what that company does to ensure that they are offering fairtrade products. Our suppliers Rainstick Trading work with the sources they use to develop new lines which will help the business to become sustainable. They also visit the producers at least once a year to see that everything is going well and to get involved with local community projects.
Fairtrade instruments are exciting and different. By choosing them we can help other musicians in the world to have a better life.