Fair Trade at RMIT


Tea plucker in a fairtrade, organic tea plantation in India. Buy this tea from The Bean Project and Level 7 cafes on the City campus

In 2009, RMIT University was jointly named with Macquarie University as the first Fair Trade University in Australia by the Fair Trade Association.

As a Fair Trade University we are committed to using fair trade products where possible on our campuses, and promoting fair and ethical trade. Click one of the tabs below to see how RMIT supports fair trade and how you can get involved.

What is Fair Trade?

Fair Trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalised producers and workers – especially in the South.” (World Fair Trade Organisation, WFTO).

Fair Trade certified products and accredited businesses support the 10 principles of fair trade and International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions. These include: ensuring that production has created opportunities for disadvantaged producers, is transparent and accountable, follows fair trading principles, pays producers a fair price, has guaranteed that there is no child or forced labour, ensures that there is freedom of association and gender equality, guarantees good working conditions, seeks to build the capacity of producers, promotes fair trade, and is environmentally sustainable.

Fairtrade Australia New Zealand certified products deliver a better deal for farmers and producers in the developing world through:

  • a fair and stable price for their produce
  • security of long-term contracts
  • investment in local community development
  • improved working conditions
  • environmentally sustainable farming methods
  • support in gaining the knowledge and skills needed to operate successfully in the global economy.

Find out more about Fair Trade certification through Fairtrade Australia New Zealand and Fair Trade communities through the Fair Trade Association.

RMIT has links with ethical and Fair Trade organisations in Australia and internationally that welcome partnerships with RMIT students.

Meet the makers of RMIT Fair Trade merchandise

RMIT hoodie – fair trade version available in store soon!

Fair Trade

The Fair Trade RMIT hoodie is journeying straight to RMIT’s Campus Store shelves from the Fair Trade, organic fields of central India and to a Fair Trade factory in Kolkata.

The hoodie begins as organic cotton produced in central and southern India by farmers with small fields of cotton. Did you know that cotton farmers are some of the poorest people in India? RMIT is committed to improving their lives through switching to ethical and organic cotton. Fair Trade and organic cotton improve the farmers lives in so many ways. The farmers have formed a collective so that rather than act as individual farmers, they can negotiate prices as a group. For all of the Fair Trade cotton that they produce they receive a Fair Trade premium to be spent on community development projects such as building schools, paying for scholarships or savings and insurance, or improving agricultural practices.

After the cotton goes through production into cotton yarn it is made into our hoodies by a garment factory certified by Fairtrade USA. The factory is family-owned and the cotton farmers also have a stake in the factory to ensure they receive funds from the garment production. The workers receive fair wages, good working conditions with plenty of light and air coolers, fire, health and safety regulations, and additional benefits such as subsidised food from a canteen, bonuses, paid holidays, and training. They have a strong workers union that negotiates on their behalf, and they also have a democratically elected Fair Trade Committee. This committee is formed of worker representatives and they decide what to spend the Fair Trade premium on, which is a community development fund provided by sales of Fair Trade garments.

RMIT’s Fair Trade/organic tees , Raglan Hoodie, College Jacket and Varsity Jacket

School for cotton community

The cotton from RMIT’s Fair Trade, organic tees and jackets originates from central India. It begins with an organic organisation that is dedicated to working in harmony with the environment through sustainable, Fair Trade, and organic principles. This organisation trains farmers to become organic cotton producers, for which they receive a higher price for their cotton, they eliminate costs from inputs such as fertilisers and pesticides as all organic inputs come from the surrounding environment, and they are healthier. The farmers also receive a Fair Trade premium which has funded the building of a new school in the area, women’s toilets to protect women’s safety and cattle drinking wells (so that women do not have to travel to gather water for the cattle who pull the cotton loads).

The cotton is made into fabric, which is then made into these products for RMIT. The factory that produces the products is Fair Trade and also supports other ethical and organic initiatives. They are strongly committed to creating a safe and supportive community and workplace for their workers.

A fair cup of coffee

RUSU Real Foods

Visit RUSU Realfoods in Building 8 to try their coffee from Amelia Franklin. Amelia Franklin are not-for-profit company, all of their packaging is compostable, they run on 70-80% wind turbine/solar panels, they are Fair Trade and organic and they invest money into educating women in Papua New Guinea. They even use their coffee waste in their community garden.

Fair Trade on campus

RMIT’s has a range of Fair Trade activities throughout the year and you can find Fair Trade products on campus in staffrooms, cafes and the campus store.

Fair Trade products in cafes

  • City campus:
    • RUSU Realfoods in Building 8, Level 4 sell Fair Trade tea and coffee
    • Pearson and Murphy’s sell Fair Trade coffee
    • T Square Café in Building 100 stocks Fair Trade tea and coffee
    • Coffee Nomad on Bowen Street sells coffee that is sourced ethically.
    • The Bean Project and Level Seven café in Building 80 sell Fair Trade tea sourced from India.
    • Streat cafe in Building 10, Level 11 sell ethically sourced coffee and is a social enterprise working with homeless youth.
  • Bundoora campus:
    • Bundoora Sports Centre sells Fair Trade coffee
    • RUSU Realfoods, Building 220 sell Fair Trade tea and coffee.

Don’t forget to drink your Fair Trade tea or coffee with a KeepCup from the campus store.

Fair Trade in the campus store

Fair Trade soccer balls

Providing ethically-sourced products at an accessible price point to students is at the core of the RMIT Campus Store’s merchandise buying policy. The Campus Store currently offer Fair Trade certified and organic cotton jackets, hoodies, polo shirts and t-shirts. It also stocks Fair Trade RMIT student-designed tote bags, soccer balls and hacky sacks. In addition, it stocks sustainable products such as KeepCups, ethically-made basketballs and student-made products including terrariums or recycled timber home wares. More products are regularly introduced and the Campus Store it is in the process of replacing its entire existing hoodie and t-shirt ranges with Fair Trade options.

Shop online or see the range on the Campus Store website.

Behind the scenes

You can find Fair Trade tea and coffee brands in RMIT’s staffrooms and meeting rooms such as Oxfam Fair, Jasper Coffee, and Scarborough Fair tea.

RMIT has a Fair Trade Steering Committee including Fair Trade ambassadors from across the University including students, professional and academic staff. To register your interest in attending a committee meeting as a guest or to become a member of the committee please email fairtrade@rmit.edu.au.

Get involved

There are many ways that you can get involved in the Fair Trade movement and support fair and ethical principles.

  • Drink Fair Trade coffee and tea and buy Fair Trade certified food and gifts (where options are available) to ensure that you are supporting ethical organisations.
  • Lobby your favourite café on campus to provide Fair Trade options.
  • Buy Fair Trade uniforms for your sports clubs and Fair Trade sports balls from the Campus Store.
  • Hold a Fair Trade information session or event for Fair Trade fortnight or anytime during the year.
  • Do a research/academic project on Fair Trade and ethical consumerism for your study and share this information with fellow students and staff.
  • Volunteer with Fair Trade /sustainability events or run your own, or join a sustainability collective at RMIT.
  • Intern or do a student project with one of RMIT’s Fair Trade partners or go overseas on an ethical study tour.

Contact fairtrade@rmit.edu.au for any ideas, support or for any questions about getting involved in Fair Trade initiatives.

Events and news

General events and projects

Food Tour

Look out for Fair Trade featuring in events and projects at RMIT throughout the year, such as:
  • Sustainability Week in March, 2016 – we showcased sustainability projects and initiatives on campus including Fair Trade.
  • We run other events throughout the year and link in with other events, such as Founders Celebrations, Orientation Week, and student trips, tours and community events.

Fair Trade Fortnight

Fair Trade tote bags

RMIT participates in Fair Trade Fortnight, an annual global festival which celebrates Fair Trade as a tangible contribution to the fight against poverty and exploitation, climate change and the economic crises that have the greatest impact on the world’s most vulnerable populations.

Fair Trade Fortnight 2016
Fair Trade Fortnight 2016 ran from 9 to 22 May 2016 across all RMIT campuses. Check out the line-up.

Fair Trade Fortnight 2015
In 2015, the theme was ‘Be an Agent of Change’ with a focus on ‘Every Purchase Matters’. Some events at RMIT included:

  • Fashion students selling their specially designed Fair Trade tote bags at the Brunswick Fair Trade Market.
  • The RUSU/Greening RMIT Community Dinner which included a presentation by Trade Australia presented.
  • Displays including “Be an Agent for Change,” exhibition in RMIT Industrial Design Building and Project Fusion with School of Fashion and Textiles in Building 513.

Fairly Educated Conference

The RMIT Sustainability Committee offered limited student scholarships for 2016’s Fairly Educated Conference.

The conference will take place on 15-17 July 2016, at Deakin University’s Waurn Ponds Campus in Geelong Victoria. The scholarship covers the full conference registration and accommodation at the conference accommodation venue.

The Australia-wide Fairly Educated Conference is an annual highlight for any students with an interest in fair and ethical trade, corporate social responsibility, and sustainability. This year the conference is themed: Visionaries for a fairer future.

Likeminded people from across Australia will be brought together to network with passionate leaders from Fair Trade companies and humanitarian organisations as well as politicians, empowering entrepreneurs and event management specialists. This will provide you with not only the knowledge regarding what is currently being done to tackle the major issues of the world, but also how you as an individual can make a great impact and be one of the future leaders of social change.


Our Fair Trade Coordinator visited some of RMIT’s fair trade products sourced from India to highlight RMIT’s ethical supply chains and the impact of being a Fair Trade University. Read the news article about this trip.


Please contact RMIT’s Fair Trade Coordinator via fairtrade@rmit.edu.au for any support, information, or to discuss ideas.