A fair trade social held on January 24 was SFU’s latest development in the campaign to make the university a sustainable consumer. The event was held at the Halpern Centre and highlighted the impact SFU has made over the last five years as it strives to become a silver fair trade campus.
Event attendees enjoyed fair trade snacks such as cupcakes, ham, fruit, vegetables, and red and white wine as Torrye McKenzie, program manager of the Canadian Fair Trade Network, spoke towards recent and upcoming SFU-related movements in the fair trade campaign.
SFU goes fair trade
This past summer, the Canadian Fair Trade Network released new standards for fair trade certification, including a silver and gold tier. Following the announcement, SFU declared its goal to become a silver fair trade campus. To that end, SFU became the second Canadian university to carry fair trade bananas, after University of Concordia, on January 31. Fair trade bananas are sourced from plantations that have been evaluated to provide protection of workers rights, wages based on the fair trade minimum price as opposed to market fluctuations, environmentally sustainable operations, and investment in community projects.
The opening of Starbucks on campus was a major step towards SFU’s fair trade certification in 2012. Despite the added protections upon coffee farmers’ wages, “the price of a cup of coffee didn’t go up a cent,” emphasized McKenzie as she addressed the common misconception that a fair trade campus would mean higher prices for students.
The Tim Hortons dilemma
Another coffee chain on campus, however, is proving to be a hurdle for SFU’s goal to reach silver fair trade certification. Tim Hortons, a popular food option on campus, does not offer any fair trade certified coffees.
Mark McLaughlin, SFU’s chief commercial services officer, Ancilliary Services, and other staff involved with SFU’s fair trade campaign have been in discussion with the franchise to discuss the incorporation of at least one fair trade coffee option. Barring an agreement, it was emphasized at the fair trade social that Tim Hortons will most likely be shut down, as a coffee vendor on campus without fair trade options would prevent SFU from reaching silver fair trade certification.
McKenzie spoke towards SFU increasing integration of fair trade products on campus moving forward. Harbour Centre will also act as host for the sixth annual National Fair Trade Conference.
A significant portion of student involvement in the fair trade campaign comes from SFU’s fair trade ambassadors. At the beginning of each academic year, SFU recruits five students passionate about sustainability, who represent and share events promoting fair trade at SFU.