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University of Ottawa declared a Fair Trade Campus

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BY DON BUTLER

University of Ottawa students and staff who buy coffee at university-run food outlets can “sleep a little better tonight,” according to Jonathan Rausseo, the campus sustainability manager — and not because it’s decaffeinated.

The university became the seventh in Canada Tuesday to achieve Fair Trade Campus designation. Fairtrade Canada awards the designation to institutions that demonstrate “outstanding commitments” to increasing the availability and awareness of fair trade products.

To receive the designation, the university has to offer only fair trade coffee in the 15 or 16 food outlets it operates on campus. It also must offer three fair trade teas at each location and, if chocolate bars are sold, at least one must be fair trade.

The rules don’t apply to chains with outlets on campus, such as Tim Hortons, Starbucks and Second Cup, which will continue to serve their own products.

A student chapter of Engineers Without Borders first proposed the idea about two years ago and it was quickly embraced by the university.

The requirement to sell Fairtrade products won’t mean higher prices, Rausseo said. “That’s the irony of it. There’s no difference in cost. If the price point isn’t different, why wouldn’t we be doing this?”

The University of British Columbia became Canada’s first Fair Trade Campus in 2011, followed by Simon Fraser University, the University of Guelph, McGill University, Brock University and Selkirk College.

“Hopefully, we can push people toward this behaviour,” Rausseo said. (OTTAWA CITIZEN)

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