When you think “fair trade” it’s probably closely followed by “chocolate” or “coffee.” Maybe it comes to mind as the fancy coffee associated with hipsters and small, but costly coffee shops. It may also remind you of really dark chocolate or possibly clothing brands like Patagonia. Fair Trade may seem like just a buzzword to make a product sound better, but it’s actually a signifier of how you can buy products to support more sustainable practices for labor and the environment.
What does Fair Trade Certification mean?
Though you can go to the Fair Trade Certified website to get more in-depth descriptions of their mission and methods, essentially Fair Trade is an organization meant to protect and aid labor workers and communities in exploited industries. Products like coffee, chocolate, textiles, and garments, are subject to corporations that take advantage of the low wages in poor countries to exploit workers and drive down the cost of labor and products. This also, often, force small farmers and workers out of business and into working for an unsustainable living. These practices are bad all around, causing community and environmental degradation for the sake of lower prices and better profits.
The goal of Fair Trade is to create industry price floors that ensure workers are paid properly for their labor and products. A company or community that receives Fair Trade Certification must pay a licensing fee which is reinvested into social and economic programs for that community. They also have their operations, from supply chain to sales, overseen to ensure fair trade practices and sustainable working conditions.
Of course, Fair Trade isn’t a perfect program, but it’s a great starting point for learning how the products you buy affect other people and the environment. The end goal is to create a more fair, safe, and sustainable work environment and consumers who are more easily able to make informed, ethical buying decisions. Whether it’s through Fair Trade Certification or personal research, being aware of what you use your buying power for is important in holding brands accountable for treating workers and the environment right.
How can you buy Fair Trade Certified?
If buying Fair Trade goods interests you (and, really, what’s not to love?), then you’re in luck! Fair Trade Certified products are always obviously marked with their logo because the goal is to make it easy to support fair trade practices with your purchases. Plus, Fair Trade certification isn’t just for coffee and chocolate. You can find a range of food, clothing, makeup, and some home décor that are all Fair Trade Certified. Armed with the knowledge of the Fair Trade Certification, it’s time to get using that buy power for good!
For more information on Fair Trade Certification and products direct from the source, check out Fairtradecertified.org.