Harriet Lamb has been a crusader in the fairtrade movement and has been Executive Director of the Fairtrade Foundation since 2001. She was born in England, lived in India as a child and then grew up and was educated in the UK, taking a first degree in political science at Cambridge University and an MPhil at the Sussex Institute of Development Studies. She joined the Fairtrade Foundation after two years with Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO). Under her leadership, Fairtrade has become one of Britain’s most active grass roots social movements. In 2008, sales of Fairtrade topped £700 million, with over 4,500 Fairtrade products available from cotton to coffee, face-cream to ice-cream. We talk about her love for her bike, London living and her positive life.
One word that describes you? Happy.
In your own words, what do you do? Try to encourage more people to buy Fairtrade goodies, so more farmers and workers can earn a decent living and make poverty history for themselves. Clearly this involves sampling a lot of luscious Fairtrade chocolate, coffee and wine but what can a girl do?
Who is your greatest influence in your career/life? Gandhi – who said: ‘Live the change you want to see in the world’.
Which is your favourite part of your job? Ooh, hard to say. I love the fact that one day I can be talking with women coffee farmers in Rwanda, the next day with shoppers in Monmouth and then meeting tough supermarket bosses. That variety and ability to connect such different worlds is a real treat that I treasure every day.
Which is the part that you enjoy the least? Budgets; ok, ok, next question….
What is your greatest achievement? That today every banana you buy in Sainsburys, Waitrose and in Coop will be Fairtrade. That means that in the Windward Islands for example the farmers are able to stay on their small family farms, have hope for the future and are investing in their local communities – from computers for schools to health clinics and other community projects.
What was your Plan B? I never even had a Plan A. I just always knew I wanted to enjoy life and somehow play my part in tackling global poverty.
What is your most prized possession? Easy – my bike. It’s an old, rusty, big tank of a bike, called Greenpeace, made in Germany of everything recycled. I used to have a kid on the back, shopping in one panier, laptop in the other, and it was solid.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given? Happiness breeds success, as the saying goes.
Please complete the sentence… I could not live without…It’s got to be my bike again. It keeps me sane, cycling around London. I always get everywhere quicker and more happily than colleagues on public transport; I love the exercise, being in the fresh (ish) air, the journey from home to work to home; and all my best ideas come on my bike…..
Favourite restaurant? In which city? Tibits, a vegetarian restaurant off Regent Street in my home town of London.
What is your personal luxury? I love sweet-smelling handmade soaps – and my favourites are Visionary Soaps, made from shea butter collected by women in the poor North of Ghana. When I met the women, it took hours to find out how they had spent the Fairtrade premium as after every story they would burst into exuberant song and dance!
What steps do you take to make your life more positive? Mainly I rely on swimming and yoga as exercise always makes you feel positive. But, funny that you should ask. Our campaign this year is Take a Step for Fairtrade.
Taking a step for Fairtrade this Fairtrade Fortnight is a really fun and effective way to bring about positive change to the lives of the farmers who produce the goods that end up on our shop shelves.I have met sugar farmers in Malawi who with the Fairtrade premium have been able to provide safe, clean water for communities, buy iron roofing for houses, pay children’s school fees and provide electricity to villages.Every little step you or me takes adds up to a big change – in fact 1.5 million steps. That’s one for every producer we aim to work with around the world. Each step leads to a sweeter deal that millions of farmers and workers in developing countries urgently need.
Every little step adds to a big change. If you have…
- Five minutes buy a Fairtrade product
- If you have 10 minutes talk to one friend or family member about Fairtrade
- If you have 15 minutes ask if your work place, faith group or leisure centre could offer Fairtrade products
- If you have 20 minutes, bake a cake using Fairtrade ingredients
- If you have more time, meet one of the Fairtrade farmer touring the country this Fairtrade Fortnight