EWB scares them Fair
Assistant News Editor
Although Halloween may be a time where our younger selves yearn the bygone days of mountainous piles of sweets and goodies, a group of students from McMaster, dressed primarily in gorilla costumes, have found something else to go bananas about.
In an effort to promote Fair Trade consumption and awareness, Engineers Without Borders (EWB), World University Service of Canada (WUSC), and MacGreen participated in an annual reverse Trick or Treat campaign entitled “Scare them Fair” on Oct. 31st.
Members, many of whom dressed as bananas, the Fair Trade product logo, or gorillas, gave out Oxfam Belgian Mini’s, one of the many Fair Trade chocolates sold in Canada, to unsuspecting passer-bys while participating in an open dialogue regarding the merits of Fair Trade, a stance taken by ethical supply chains.
“That’s the beauty of it,” said Amy Tang, a member of the EWB McMaster chapter. “Not only we’re we out there giving sweets – Fair Trade ones at that – but we were also giving information.”
Much of this “information” was meant as an introduction to Fair Trade for those who had not heard of it before and an attempt to clear up any ambiguities to those who have.
“Contrary to what the name of the campaign suggests, we want to use the fun of Halloween to start conversations with students, faculty, staff, and the general Hamilton community,” said Brandon Desbarbieux, coordinator of Fair Trade Awareness for EWB.
The event stands as an ongoing drive for consumer responsibility in the marketplace that originated in Vancouver, Canada’s largest Fair Trade city and home to Canada’s first Fair Trade Campus, University of British Columbia.
Similarly, McMaster is seeking Fair Trade Campus status. Tang noted that it has been a topic constantly up for discussion, and “that much of the faculty support it: Patrick Deane, Ilene-Busch-Vishniac; those are just some of the many.”
Some, however, have been known reject Fair Trade because it is often more expensive than other producers.
“This is a common misconception,” said Tang. “It does not have to be more expensive. If you look at Union Market, if you look at OPRIG Office on the second floor of MUSC, if you go to any chain super market, it is not. It actually costs less.”
Financial costs are only one consideration though.
While it is true that money may be the mitigating factor for some, it is certain that the social benefits are unquestionable. Even if it is the case that finances are a concern, the social costs greatly outrun the worries of any paper trail.
Tang argued this point. Highlighting the “Scare them Fair” event, she added that this pursuit of equitable consumption is becoming more popular, even at McMaster.
“When we were giving the chocolate out, a girl said, ‘Look, Mommy! Fair Trade chocolate.’ She didn’t say chocolate. She specified the kind. That’s evidence enough of the movement spreading.”
This, coupled with the joint advocacy of ethical purchases by three groups at McMaster, may very well be compelling. If it is, then perhaps in the near future, Halloween will become a time of united chants, “Monkeys. Bananas. Fair Trade. Oh my.”