It is now officially September and it is back to the books! By now most universities are back in session or are beginning next week.  As you start your Fall Semester, you may be looking for a way to get involved in your school. Did you know there is a Fair Trade University movement? We knew about Fair Trade Towns (both Boston and San Francisco are one), but Fair Trade Universities are a super exciting new way to spread Fair Trade.

The first Fair Trade University in the US was the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh in 2008. Since then, many campuses are working to make their University a Fair Trade haven. What does it take to become a Fair Trade University? A committee must formed, the school must be selling Fair Trade products, Fair Trade products must be served at internal functions, a Fair Trade Policy must be instated, and a commitment to Fair Trade education. Easy enough, right?

If your University doesn’t have an active committee yet, start one! Fair Trade Towns & Universities site have a lot of great info to helo you get started, including a Student Action Guide and Intro Guide.  Also, if you are near Philadelphia, this year is the very first Fair Trade Towns & Universities National Conference next weekend.  Start this semester off right and get your Fair Trade education on! Good luck.

A few weeks ago we did a post on the Top Green Colleges, however the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh did not make our list. We now think they not only should be on the list, but they deserve their very own post! We want to congratulate the university for becoming the very first US Fair Trade University! In September of this year, UW Oshkosh announced they are making a commitment to Fair Trade. Europe already hosts 70 Fair Trade universities, but UW Oshkosh’s announcement makes it the first American university to climb on board. The university has pledged to sell Fair Trade certified coffee, tea, and chocolate campus-wide, as well as sell handicrafts and other certified fair trade products. They also plan to educate and encourage their students to purchase Fair Trade products as much as possible through their newly-formed department the Campus Sustainability Council . They have also become members of the Fair Labor Association, meaning they only work with companies and vendors who are certified by the FLA as not working with sweatshops.

On top of their new Fair Trade commitment, UW Oshkosh has made several awesome moves to become a fully green university. They are a part of the EPA Green Power Partnership and source some of their energy from renewable resources. They also have chosen to have all eggs supplied on campus from cage-free chickens. And just a few days ago the school announced another first! They are doing a comprehensive assessment of their carbon footprint and analyzing how each part of the university emits carbon into the atmosphere. Once the analysis is complete the administration will implement a plan to fully change campus operations to lessen their carbon footprint.

We are so excited about UW Oshkosh’s moves to lessen their emissions as well as becoming a Fair Trade University! These are the exciting changes we love to hear about and look forward to following their plans as they unfold in the coming years. So everyone, tip your glass and send a “Cheers!” to the students, faculty, and administration that made this possible!!!

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