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Fair Trade is $hopping With a Conscience
By Wendy Priesnitz

fair trade coffeeWhere you shop and what you buy can create ripples around the world, supporting cruel regimes and worker exploitation, and damaging the environment, or helping local economies and being a positive force for social change. When you purchase Fair Trade products, you know that you’re buying into a sustainable model of international trade based on economic justice and environmental sensitivity. With Fair Trade, importers purchase from Fair Trade producer groups as directly as possible to eliminate unnecessary middlemen and empower farmers to develop the business capacity necessary to compete in the global marketplace.

Fair Trade criteria include:

  • Paying a fair wage in the local context
  • Offering employees opportunities for advancement
  • Providing equal employment opportunities for all people with freedom of association and no discrimination
  • Engaging in environmentally sustainable practices
  • Being democratic, transparent, and open to public accountability
  • Building long-term trade relationships
  • Providing healthy and safe working conditions within the local context
  • Providing financial and technical assistance to producers whenever possible
  • Ensuring that there is no child or forced labor

Fair Trade product certification ensures consumers that these principles are more than encouraging words. Connecting producers with retailers around the world are a variety of fair trade certification initiatives in Europe, North America, and Japan. Certified products can be identified by the use of a Fair Trade logo.

    

The number and types of products that are sold under Fair Trade labels have mushroomed internationally over the past few years. They now include coffee, tea, cocoa, sugar, fruit, beans and grains, nuts, oils and butters, wine, herbal products, crafts, sports balls, cotton clothing, jewelry, cut flowers, and more. (Not all Fair Trade organizations certify all product categories.)

In order to raise consumer awareness of Fair Trade, the second week of May has been designated Fair Trade Week. Fair Trade producers and retailers hold local events to highlight their products and educate the public. There are also initiatives such as the Fair Trade Towns and Fair Trade Campus campaigns to recognize communities and schools that actively support Fair Trade, increasing both availability and awareness at the local level. Check out the websites listed below for details about initiatives in your area, and for listings of producers and retailers.

When you purchase Fair Trade products, you are making a tangible contribution to the fight against poverty, climate change, and the economic crisis that hit hardest on the world’s most vulnerable populations.

Learn More

FairTrade USA

FairTrade Canada

European Fair Trade Association

Fair Trade International

World Fair Trade Association

 

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