Ethical Policy and Certified Schemes
At Tea-Direct, we are often asked by customers if the teas we sell are Fair Trade certified, or organic, and also if our products are packaged in recyclable or biodegradable packaging. The following may give an idea of our stance on these issues.
Tea-Direct’s Ethical Policy
Our choice not to be involved in Fair Trade Schemes and Institutions or the Organic Trade Association does not mean we do not provide tea that has been sustainably grown or ethically sourced. We very much operate on positive ethical terms with our partners, and believe social responsibility can be met in other ways. We believe in equality for all tea growers, from the smallest tea gardens to the largest plantations, with equal opportunities in some of the less affluent areas as well as the more prosperous ones.
Fair Trade Certification
After much consideration, Tea-Direct made the decision not to be enrolled in the Fair Trade scheme, for a number of reasons:
Whilst we appreciate it is noble in its fundamental purpose and objectives, over the years we have come to the conclusion that the Fair Trade scheme isn’t suited, or indeed beneficial, to all those who may be involved in tea production, and that the strict rules applied to the small plantations, farmers and producers we work with may sometimes be detrimental to the overall cause of creating a fair business environment.
The Fair Trade certification mark may help socially conscious people make decisions about which products to buy, but it would be unfair to assume that any goods that don’t bear the mark have not been ethically produced. Fair Trade certification can be expensive and not all growers, especially those who run smaller businesses, can afford it. In some cases, the paperwork involved in order to join the Fair Trade scheme may prove to be a challenge to some because of language or literacy barriers, preventing them from joining. We would prefer that all tea growers have an equal opportunity to trade, and not just those who can afford the initial outlay of Fair Trade certification, as well as the time and resources needed to meet its requirements.
Fair Trade teas account for a relatively small selection of the diverse assortment of teas to be sourced from around the world. If Tea-Direct only stocked Fair Trade or Organic Certified teas, this would limit our range considerably, and some of the finest teas the world has to offer would not be available for your enjoyment.
In an ideal world, all produce would grow in abundance without the use of unnatural chemical fertilisers, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides. Indeed, before such things were ever used, organic farming of tea was the norm, but over the years changes in the way tea is cultivated has made chemical intervention more necessary. That being said, many farmers today who cannot afford the expense of chemical pesticides and fertilisers may still use traditional farming methods. Unfortunately, when tea is cultivated it is prone to a variety of pests and diseases, that could diminish crops and seriously affect the livelihoods of tea growers and their workforce. The requirements for organic certification, however, are so stringent that farmers would not be able to use even the absolute minimum of fungicides or pest control to avoid such a catastrophe. The process of becoming Organic Certified can be expensive, time-consuming and labour-intensive, and many farmers do not have the necessary funds or resources in order to achieve this.
In respect of the use of recyclable or biodegradable packaging of our products, we are very conscious of the impact on the environment of many of the packaging materials still in use today, and that there is an obvious need for change. It is probably fair to say that the industry in general needs to revolutionise how products are packaged, and we are actively working with packaging companies and material developers to introduce ecologically sound solutions across our range.