We often speaking about practicing what we preach in the student movement; doing the things in reality that reflect our values. Sometimes we don't always get that right. But often we do, and that's why NUS is one of the most progressive forces for change in the United Kingdom. Nowhere is that embodiment of living our values more obvious than with Epona.
Epona is NUS' Fairtrade clothing company that supplies over 75 institutions and students' unions with 750,000 units of Fairtrade garments per year.
Students buy clothes. They have told us consistently that they care about the environmental and ethical impact of the things they wear. So we decided that the only way to ensure that students had that choice was if we, ahem, rolled up our sleeves and did it ourselves.
And students are right to be wanting Fairtrade clothing. Not only is the quality better, but ultimately it has a positive impact on the world. OM Organics, the main co-operative we work with, pays farmers a premium on top of the Fairtrade price. They then decide how to spend that money to improve their communities lives.
Using this model, we're making work pay, supporting better working conditions, giving children from impoverished parts of the world an opportunity to have a better future and giving communities all sorts of life saving benefits they simply otherwise wouldn't have.
The economic benefits are there as well - there is a clear trend towards students and young people voting with their feet towards ethical suppliers of things they consume. We're on the crest of an ethical wave and we're proudly riding it.
Our vision is for every single students' union to be Fairtrade by 2020. We're going to work with students' unions to manage that transition. It might be challenging, but it'll be worth it.
You can learn more about the work Epona does by watching the video below.