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Eco 101: Fair Trade

Fair Trade logo

Eco 101: What is Fair Trade?


You probably noticed the fair trade logo first on coffee, and might have wondered what role it plays in environmental activism.

Fair trade is an organized social movement powered by individuals who back their values with their dollars. What are these values?

Farmer in Thailand
The Values Behind Fair Trade
• Pay a fair price for the goods you buy.
• Deal fairly and respectfully with your trading partners.
• Treat men and women equally, and treat children like children.
• Provide safe and healthy working conditions.
• Treat the environment with respect and concern for its health and sustainability.

In the absence of government action to ensure that our trading partners overseas are providing fair working conditions and a decent wage, choosing to buy fair trade products allows you to make that guarantee as an individual consumer.

As a social movement, fair trade seeks to create opportunities for the producers of goods around the globe who have been marginalized by the scale of a worldwide economy. It seeks to give people an opportunity to break out of poverty and build capacity by providing a stable price for their crops, business support, access to premium Northern markets and better trading conditions overall.

While it may seem like the latest “thing,” attempts to bring fair trade goods to market started up in the 1940s, led by religious groups and nonprofit organizations. These groups focused on bringing handicrafts to new markets and creating new opportunities for what was then termed “the third world.”

If you look again at the list of fair trade principles you will its roots in the best of our spiritual and religious teachings:

• Don’t take advantage of people in a tenuous situation: pay a fair price for the goods you buy from less developed countries.
• Treat all persons with respect: deal fairly and respectfully with your trading partners.
• Again, treat all persons with respect: treat men and women equally and treat children like children.
• You are your brother’s keeper: provide safe and healthy working conditions.
• We are stewards of God’s creation: treat the environment with respect and concern.

Treating the environment with respect and concern is the link with environmental activism. If living a life of sustainability and values is your aim, learn more about fair trade and how you can walk the talk as a consumer. Go to: http://www.transfairusa.org .

Next in the Series: Shop Fair Trade
   

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