In 2016, the University of California at Los Angeles became designated as a Fair Trade University, the largest public university to achieve that status at the time. This huge accomplishment was a two-year process between Fair Trade Campaigns and the UCLA student organization E3: Ecology, Economy, Equity. Fair Trade Campaigns is a grassroots movement to mobilize conscious consumers and Fair Trade advocates in universities, schools, towns, and congregations, which is the perfect match for E3, the largest environmental sustainability organization on UCLA’s campus.
We were fortunate enough to sit down with two of UCLA’s Fair Trade Campaign chairs at E3, Isabel Havens and Evelyn Malamut, to learn more about the history of becoming a designated Fair Trade University, the impact it has on campus, and what the future of Fair Trade and environmental sustainability will look like at UCLA.
Photo Courtesy of Isabel Havens and E3
Can you tell us about the road to becoming a designated Fair Trade University?
There’s 5 steps for the designation process to ensure permanency on campus. For example, some of the steps include making sure that Fair Trade purchasing will go into a policy that will continue post designation and hosting events every quarter to both educate and sell products. The benefit of the Fair Trade Campaign being within E3 at UCLA is E3 already puts on farmers markets on Wednesdays and other events that happen very regularly, so Fair Trade can jump on and table at those events. The Fair Trade campaign also had to work with the sustainability office on the Hill (where UCLA dorms and dining halls are), and with ASUCLA (the associated student union on campus). Now there’s Fair Trade coffee at all the coffee shops around campus, Fair Trade products at dining halls, UCLA catering has some Fair Trade products, and the large student store on campus called Ackerman has a few products as well.
Graphic Courtesy of Isabel Havens and E3.
Now that you are a designated Fair Trade University, what are your future steps?
Now, for the campaign, because UCLA is already designated, the goal is to diversify products available for students and increase awareness. When we became a designated university, we were the largest in all of the U.S. Now we’re the second, but most students on campus do not even realize we are a Fair Trade School. So, we are really trying to increase awareness that we are a Fair Trade school and we have Fair Trade products offered, but also what Fair Trade is. A lot of people recognize what a Fair Trade label is, but now the goal is help students know where they can find it on campus. For example, we are working with ASUCLA to educate and train the baristas at coffee shops around campus so they know the different Fair Trade products available and what the price difference is so they can inform customers and encourage Fair Trade.
Also, we are looking at what other products to introduce to campus. That is why we are excited to talk with The Little Market, because we are looking at Fair Trade clothing, bags, and other products to available to students.
Image courtesy of Isabel Havens and E3.
How does UCLA compare to other college campuses?
Our size changes a lot of things as a lot of other universities that are Fair Trade designated are smaller private schools. Being a large public university sets us apart, as having an emphasis on social justice and conscious consumerism can reach an even larger and more diverse population.
What can individual students and faculty do on the daily basis to support Fair Trade?
Knowing about and purchasing Fair Trade products is the biggest thing. Most people on campus drink coffee. If you think about how many people on campus are buying coffee every day, if every person just put $0.21 more toward the Fair Trade cup, that makes a huge difference.
What do envision for the future of fair trade and environmental sustainability on UCLA’s campus?
E3 is a really strong organization and continues to expand the things they do on campus, such as with the farmers market and a sustainable clothing lines. When you have a strong organization, it encourages more students to be a part of the movement. Also, Fair Trade is really being written into the Hill with dining halls having Fair Trade Coffee and recycle and compost cans everywhere, so as soon as first-year students enter the standard and expectation of sustainability is set. We really see UCLA being at the forefront of large universities for encouraging these movements.
We are so excited to see UCLA students taking huge steps toward conscious consumerism and environmental sustainability through their fair trade practices on campus. We look forward to seeing the expansion of fair trade and continue seeing so many students doing good.