Fairtrade at Electric Picnic 2023

NB There are a lot of aspects of Electric Picnic that we do not agree with e.g. excluding small local businesses in favour of large international ones, cashless festival, how the margins of traders were squeezed but we are still grateful to be able to work with the Sustainability Team.

What a blast!… 3 sunny days, 15 Fairtrade Ambassadors, 2 Fairtrade employees, 1 videographer, 58 traders and 5000 roses! Add them all together for a hectic, productive and, overall, tremendously fun weekend.

Continuing our long-standing partnership with Electric Picnic, a Fairtrade festival, we at Fairtrade Ireland had two main goals at EP 2023. The first was to conduct a Fairtrade audit of the 58 relevant traders selling our products at the festival (tea, coffee, bananas etc.). This was to assess compliance with Electric Picnic’s status as a Fairtrade Festival i.e. were traders stocking the Fairtrade versions of the key products mentioned above. The Fairtrade Ambassadors went around to all of the traders on site engaging with them and having some very fruitful conversations but, in the end, there were quite low levels of compliance amongst the traders. On the plus side, traders were very aware of sustainability and many were disappointed to learn that their products were not Fairtrade. We also must note that having a non-Fairtrade eco-label is better than no label at all. We attribute the lower availability of Fairtrade products to some changes in the trader policy and the fact that Fairtrade have not been at EP since 2019 so our message is not as fresh in people’s minds…

But if we weren’t on people’s minds before EP, we sure as hell are now because of our second goal; a massive give-away of 5000 Fairtrade roses in a campaign which was a partnership with Herburg, JZ Flowers and Aldi. This goal was daunting at first but, ultimately, the team took to the task like pros! We set up our own marquee in the Night Time Arena, the most photogenic stall in the whole festival – a black marquee adorned with hessian fabric, reed walls, plants and trellises. These in turn were decorated with a plethora of roses of a range of different colours; my personal favourite coloured rose was the peach one! Our placement in the Night Time Arena meant that we could be seen from far and wide and people were irresistibly drawn over for a rose and then would get chatting to us about Fairtrade. We were also right next to Bewley’s Bodega, our commercial partners, as well as the Climate Live Stage where beautiful music and poetry drifted out across the arena through the Summery air.

It was a lot of fun to create the stunning vista of our marquee (we went a bit mad, see photos) and have conversations about our work… and even more fun to hand out the roses! Indeed, some of our Ambassadors were on ‘rosereach’ (rose outreach) where they would grab a bag stuffed with roses and head out into the festival to give them out and collect the names of those who were interested in learning more about Fairtrade. In the end, we were put on the official EP Instagram story and had our own hashtag – #roseofEP. EP was a lovely place to be and I could not have asked for a better team.

During the weekend, we dropped into the Global Green Stage for a talk on Global Solidarity where I plugged Fairtrade with a policy question and a bucket of Fairtrade roses. On the Sunday, we managed to get in a visit to Aldi who supplied our roses. Here, we took a few photos, gave out the last of the roses and had a little dance with Kevin the Aldi Carrot in the shop. Whether we were leaving roses at the stalls of compliant traders, dancing with a human carrot at Aldi or just wandering around in the glorious sunshine promoting Fairtrade, our presence at the festival, and experience of it, was very positive overall… see you all next year!

Aidan Ring – Fairtrade Community Outreach Officer

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