Words: Lianne Jones
Books on fair trade can often be described as preachy, but Jeremy Piercy, a pioneer in the fair trade movement, has challenged this with his new book Coffins, Cats and Fair Trade Sex Toys.
The book charters Jeremy’s journey into fair trade, from his first trip to India where he was moved by the kindness and hospitality of the poorest of people on his hippy trail, to his establishment of the UK’s number one fair trade retailer, Shared Earth, in 1986, which now has eight shops across the UK. The book was launched for Fairtrade Fortnight (23rd Feb- 8th March), an annual event where fair and ethical trading is encouraged and celebrated. “It’s like Comic Relief, making people more aware of fair trade,” says Jeremy.
Coffins, Cats and Fair Trade Sex Toys, which features a foreword by Antony Worrall Thompson, gives an informative yet amusing look into the world of fair trade. Keen to avoid ‘moralising’ people, Jeremy has injected humour into the book, and is adamant that he treats “people as people. We’re the same here as anywhere else in the world.”
Coffins, Cats and Fair Trade Sex Toys has so far received a very positive response; sales of the book are going well (the first print-run has almost sold out and the second print-run is on its way), and Jeremy adds that, judging by reader’s responses, it does seem to be working in making fair trade more accessible. “I’ve been asked three or four times if I’m going to write another book,” says Jeremy, before revealing that he currently has no plans as he’s used the best anecdotes of his life so far. “I need a few more years to get some more.”
Shared Earth, which has already survived two recessions, is standing strong and the next step for Jeremy looks to be an ‘eco’ shop to combine fair trade products with things such as energy-saving devices and ecological household accessories. “The fair trade movement needs to become closer to the environmental movement,” stresses Jeremy. “That’s the next logical step.”