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Social justice, the web and awesome milk chocolate

by Eric Lee

As the holiday season gets nearer, I'm going to continue with the subject of how socialists should shop online.

I know that when I go into the local Tesco, I'll almost invariably choose Fair Traded products over the usual ones -- particularly in the case of coffee and chocolate. (My 9-year-old son is particularly fond of Green & Black's Organic Fairtrade Milk Chocolate.)

I admit to be being not one-hundred-percent convinced about this -- after all, paying an extra few pence for one's Organic Americano ground coffee really does seem like a drop in the bucket when it comes to changing the world. It's a bit like buying "The Big Issue" -- you do it, but you'd also like your government to do something about homelessness.

Fair Traded products are, if you don't already know this, the ones for which "the producers get a price that fairly rewards their work and skills".

It means more than that. "Fair Trade producers also need to have decent working conditions and a safe working environment. There is no enforced labour of children or adults, and workers are able to organise and have a say in how they work." Which is a nice way of saying, they must have the right to join trade unions.

I got that definition from the new Fair Trade online website, located at This website is a joint effort of Oxfam and Traidcraft and you couldn't find a better place to stock up on fair traded products -- especially if your local supermarket doesn't carry them.

The prices are reasonable enough -- if somewhat more expensive than the fair traded coffees sold at my local shop -- and the shipping charge is only £3.50 per order, which is significantly less than what Tesco charges. On the other hand, I can have my groceries from Tesco tomorrow if I order online today; Fair Trade Online makes me wait up to two weeks for delivery unless I want to pay much more for shipping.

The range of products available from Fair Trade Online is much larger than what most supermarkets will have, including not only the usual fairtraded coffess, teas and chocolates, but also clothing, toys, jewellery, stationery and many other foods. There's even a page suggesting half a dozen Christmas decorations made in places like Sri Lanka, El Salvador and the Philippines.

The online shop is professional enough and I think it could take off if only they'd follow the example of with its "partner" websites. Imagine if every left-wing website were to sell fairtraded products, receiving a small commission on each sale -- it would have an enormous effect on sales and would raise the profile of the Fair Trade initiative.

But here's the bad news: Green & Black's Fair Trade Organic Milk Chocolate is nowhere to be found on the Fair Trade Online website -- which does sell Traidcraft's own organic milk chocolate. You can't order it online from Green and Black's own website either. But don't despair -- you can buy this extraordinary chocolate and do your bit for social justice from the Simply Organic website, located at But be warned -- it's 17% more expensive than Traidcraft's product.

This article appeared in the Scottish Socialist Voice -- "the paper that's NOT owned by millionaires".

This document was last modified: Wednesday, 23-Nov-2022 08:33:37 CET

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