Fairtrade certification body The Fairtrade Foundation is calling on high street retailers including Marks & Spencer and Tesco to increase their ranges of Fairtrade cotton school uniforms.
The Fairtrade Foundation has launched a campaign - Step Back to School in Fairtrade Cotton - to grow the fairtrade school uniform market from its current 1% share to 7%.
It will also target school uniform suppliers including Koolskools, Cotton Roots, David Luke and Makara to encourage more retailers and independent school wear buyers to stock Fairtrade cotton schoolwear.
The campaign will also focus on consumers, target 5,000 schools in the UK, who either have Fairtrade status or are registered and working towards the certification, to highlight the importance of Fairtrade as cotton farmers in West Africa and India struggle to feed their children during tough economic times.
As part of the initiative, the charity will launch a school uniform design competition for students. It’s hoping to gain traction, with 82% of schools in the country having a uniform.
Rachel Hearson, business development manager at the Fairtrade Foundation said in a statement: “In the UK we spend £1bn per year on school uniforms, but currently only a tiny percentage of these are made from Fairtrade cotton. Every Fairtrade cotton school uniform sold by retailers and suppliers in the UK represents real benefits such as schools, books, clean drinking water and health clinics for poor cotton farmers who often can’t afford to send their own children to school.”
There are currently 780 Fairtrade-certified schools and 4220 schools that have registered with the organisation are working towards gaining Fairtrade school status.