The Fairtrade Group Hof is a student initiative of the university with the appointed goal of educating students about the meaning of fair trade products and to encourage them to rethink their own buying behavior. Through various events and activities, the approximately 20 members want to get into conversation with other students and show what Fairtrade alternatives there are and how easy it is to switch to fairly traded products. Of course, these foods can then also be purchased on site.
“Which product we choose in the store will always influence the people who have produced this product in hard work,” explains Nicole Bierwert, head of the Fairtrade – Initiative. And further: “The market always follows the consumer in this, and as long as we are not aware of this power and use it, there will be no significant improvement in the areas of labor protection, working conditions, fair wages, quality, environmental protection, etc.”
Fairtrade – what exactly is it?
Fairtrade certified products benefit all farmers and other workers from Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific region.
“We forget far too often here in Germany that many workers in other countries are not doing so well. There, there is no minimum wage, maternity protection, let alone vacation. Nor is there usually a ban on child labor or sick pay there. There are often miserable conditions and one tends to suppress this quickly. Human rights violations are then not infrequently the result.”Nicole Bierwert, Head of Fairtrade Group Hof
Buying Fairtrade products actively promotes labor protection and fair wages. It also gives workers the opportunity to organize themselves into unions. In addition, small farmers benefit from the Fairtrade minimum price, which in turn serves to cover the production costs for sustainable production – to name just a few points. If you would like to read more, you can do so here.
Fairtrade – University
Hof University of Applied Sciences is also actively involved in Fairtrade and integrates Fairtrade with all its facets into everyday university life, which has earned it the title of Fairtrade University. This makes it one of 37 universities in Germany to bear this name.
Every two years, the Fairtrade Group, together with the university, applies for the renewal of the title. In doing so, it must be proven that the following five criteria are met: 1. pass a university resolution, 2. establish a steering group, 3. offer Fairtrade products at meetings and official events, 4. offer Fairtrade products in the university store and catering, 5. plan and implement events.
The Fairtrade Group is the central control point for monitoring all these criteria. For example, every semester it checks which Fairtrade products are offered for sale and in the administration.
Sale of Fairtrade products
The Fairtrade cocktail at the Boom Party, a fair breakfast on campus, the traditional sale of Fairtrade mulled wine or the Fairtrade Christmas calendar – With all these actions and events, the initiative wants to raise awareness and educate students about its “mission”.
It is simply important to us that people become aware of the consequences of our purchasing decisions. We, of all people, should stand up for those whose voices are often overheard.”Nicole Bierwert, Head of Fairtrade Group Hof
For this reason, fair trade products can be purchased at Hof University’s events, dining hall and cafeteria. The initiative then uses the income from the sales to finance itself and to organize future events. The point, however, is not to make a profit.
“In principle, Fairtrade is not about generating profit itself, but about enabling workers to receive fair payment. One must always be aware here that the price of a fairly traded product reflects the true price of a commodity. So, that it has to cost so much to provide fair working conditions. After all, we don’t go to work for one euro a day,” explains Nicole Bierwert. And she continues: “The goal is to create a better and more enlightened world for all of us, and this is only possible if everyone has roughly the same opportunities. It is simply unfair when people work hard (for example, for our coffee) and only get a few cents as payment, or when mothers have to stand in the field with their baby right after giving birth because there is no maternity protection.”
This can therefore only be counteracted if more and more people, by paying a few cents extra, decide to buy a Fairtrade product. The more people follow this example, the more companies will be challenged to change and rethink.
Sustainability and environmental protection
Sustainability and environmental protection also play a major role for the Fairtrade Group. in 2017, it was launched as a student initiative at Hof University of Applied Sciences in the area of business law focusing on “Sustainability, Environmental and Energy Law”. There, the focus is intensively on environmental protection and what effects can be expected if there is no global rethinking.
We simply cannot afford to carry on as we are. Fairtrade is equally aware of this and is therefore actively committed to our environment. Protecting our climate really does concern us all, and everyone needs to pitch in.”Nicole Bierwert, Head of Fairtrade Group Hof
For this reason, the Fairtrade Group also tries to educate people about this on its social media channels. There are therefore regular posts on the Instagram page under @fairtradegroupuniversityhof on the topics of sustainability and Fairtrade
Become a member
Anyone who wants to can become a member of the Fairtrade Group Hof.
We are very pleased that we have now received a lot of growth, especially from international students. Everyone is welcome here and we are pleased that the topic of Fairtrade is so popular.”Nicole Bierwert, Head of Fairtrade Group Hof
Interested parties can easily contact the initiative at the university email address firstname.lastname@example.org or via the Instagram page. In a joint WhatsApp group, members then plan their next meetings and exchange ideas.