Kingston University has become the third university in London to achieve Fairtrade status after meeting a number of goals set out by the Fairtrade Foundation. The status recognises Kingston as a responsible organisation committed to the long term future of the planet’s people and resources.
Kingston’s sustainability facilitator Nicola Corrigan has been working with colleagues across the University to implement the measures required to achieve Fairtrade status. She believes Kingston should take a leading role in educating people about where their products come from and paying those producers a fair price. “By buying Fairtrade products such as coffee, tea and chocolate our staff and students are helping farmers and other producers earn a decent living and provide good healthcare and education for their families,” she said. “Kingston University now sells more than 3,500 cups of tea a week, for example, all of which are Fairtrade so our organisation is making a real contribution to helping people help themselves out of poverty.”
Kingston’s Students’ Union environmental and ethical officer Hannah Smith has been campaigning for Fairtrade products to be stocked at the University since she took up her position two years ago. She believes that even though Fairtrade products are more expensive, the long-term benefits far outweigh the short-term costs. Fairtrade products are now available across all student union-run campus shops, canteens, cafes, restaurants and bars.
“Students at Kingston study in a privileged environment which is perhaps why so many want to make a difference in poverty-stricken countries,” she said. “There are lots of Fairtrade products available ranging from bananas to sports clothes and footballs. I am talking to various parts of the Students’ Union such as the sports clubs to encourage them to switch products.”
To maintain Fairtrade status, Kingston University has committed to: extending the range of Fairtrade products in shops and restaurants; serving Fairtrade tea and coffee at all meetings and continuing to promote and raise awareness on campuses, including running a series of events during Fairtrade Fortnight.
Promoting Fairtrade products is one of a number of green initiatives being developed at Kingston. The University is a strong advocate of recycling and was last year awarded £1.4 million in capital funding by the Government to set up a centre for sustainability education. The funding recognised Kingston’s role in championing the importance of sustainability in all facets of modern life.