BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 22 March '16

TfL uniforms to feature Fairtrade cotton in new partnership deal

The Fairtrade Foundation and Transport for London (TfL) have announced a five-year partnership deal to source Fairtrade cotton for all cotton in its staff uniforms.

TfL is the first UK company and public sector body to source cotton under the new Fairtrade Cotton Sourcing Programme, which specifically aims to deliver wider market opportunities for cotton farmers to sell on Fairtrade terms and connect them with businesses that actively support efforts to improve farmers’ livelihood.

Cotton and farmers

Cotton is grown in more than 100 countries, and plays a major role in the economic and social welfare of developing and newly industrialised countries.

But despite supplying the raw commodity that the multi-billion dollar global clothing and textile industries depend on, growing cotton is failing to provide millions of poor rural households in developing countries with a sustainable and profitable livelihood.

With high levels of illiteracy and limited land holdings, many cotton farmers live below the poverty line and are dependent on the middle men or ginners who buy their cotton, often at prices below the cost of production.

By offering Fairtrade cotton products, businesses contribute to a more sustainable future for cotton farmers, their communities and the environment.

The move is benefitting Fairtrade farmers from Pratima Agro Fairtrade co-operative in Orissa, India who are investing certification premiums in projects to enable women to build businesses and market goods so they have their own independent income.

Fairer rewards

The first order of 100,000 items of Fairtrade cotton staff uniform pieces was placed in 2015. The move follows TfL’s launch of its new uniforms designed by Hemingway Design – led by Wayne Hemingway MBE and Gerardine Hemingway – which were introduced last spring.

The new uniform took on board comments and suggestions from over 200 staff on comfort, durability, sustainability and attention to detail.

‘I hope TfL is the first of many organisations and brands to source Fairtrade cotton in this way, as we know how Fairtrade can significantly change the lives of cotton farmers when they receive fairer rewards for their efforts. Farmers constantly tell us they are keen to sell more of their crops on Fairtrade terms.’

Euan Venters, Commercial Director of the Fairtrade Foundation

TfL is the first public sector organisation to join the Ethical Trading Initiative, an alliance of companies, trade unions and NGOs that promotes respect for workers’ rights around the globe.

Click here to find out more about the Fair-trade Foundation.