It is great to see this month that Design Boom is bringing attention to Fair Trade and sustainability issues by interviewing the graphic designer Chris Haughton. Chris works for the Fair Trade online clothing store People Tree which is based in Japan and the UK. He talks about how he was introduced to the concept of Fair Trade, why it is important to him and who really benefits. He says that it was after travelling for two years around Asia and after reading Naomi Klein's No Logo that he really began to take on board the situations other people around the world live in. "Some of the things I saw in India and Nepal and particularly in Cambodia were really eye-opening and when I returned home to Dublin and then London I was amazed at how little most people knew anything about the situation. I was working on some large advertising jobs in London and Dublin, but I was very disillusioned with design at the time.' Chris goes on to explain how People Tree works:"They have a network of very small cooperatives and projects set up all over the world, about 70 or 80 fairly small sized producer groups ranging from 10 to 150 full or part-time workers in 20 different countries. They work in the least developed areas of the poorest countries mainly setting up projects based on the locally handicrafts Many of the producer groups and projects are set up to employ either women who may have been divorced through domestic abuse or disabled individuals who would not be able to earn money outside of their family In addition to this People Tree places a strong emphasis on ecological production methods by supporting organic cotton projects, controlling the dyes and using natural materials and appropriate technology in its products."
TH particularly agrees with Chris's view that the lack of corporate responsibility for sustainability and the environment is shameful. "The sad fact is that companies who do take sustainable development seriously actually suffer a competitive disadvantage. Companies should be made by law to take responsibility for their environmental, social and economic impact. Corporations account for the majority of international trade, but WTO agreements apply to government policies and actions rather than companies." You can read the full interview with Chris Haughton on Design Boom. :: People Tree ::Vegetable Fried Rice