What Is Fair Trade?

What is Fair Trade? 

The term “Fair Trade” has been getting a lot of exposure, with the variety of products offered  that are “Fair Trade Certified” growing in leaps and bounds.

What exactly  is “Fair Trade”?  What makes a product “Fair Trade”? 

At the heart of it, Fair Trade is a method of conducting business based on three core concepts: 

  • Buying goods at fair prices in developing nations is a more proactive way of fostering sustainable development than conventional aid and charity.

Have you heard the saying that goes something like  “Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime”?  Fair Trade is in a way, the same principle.  For struggling areas and economies, providing charity and support is a band-aid that doesn’t address underlining issues such as environmental, social, and economic health and ongoing self-sufficiency. It is a temporary fix, feeding an immediate hunger.  Fair Trade practices address this with a more holistic  approach, looking at the big, long term picture and desired future of the individuals, the community and the environment.

Source:  Photo courtesy of Gallant International

In Fair Trade practice, this means not only paying the makers a fair market price for their goods but also investing in training, better living standards, quality of life, and infrastructure for future generations.  At this time, there are farmers and producers of products that don’t get paid enough for their work to support their families and essential needs like food, shelter, medicine/healthcare, and education.  By being involved in Fair Trade small producers and farmers are given a voice and a chance to work towards and invest in their future.  There are Fair Trade Standards that outline this integrated support of economic, social, and environmental principles. 

Source:  Photo courtesy of Gallant International

Per Fairtrade International, “The key objectives of the Fairtrade Standards are to:

  • Ensure that producers receive prices that cover their average costs of    sustainable production.
  • Provide an additional Fairtrade Premium which can be invested in projects that enhance social, economic, and environmental development.
  • Enable pre-financing for producers who require it.
  • Facilitate long-term trading partnerships and enable greater producer control over the trading process.
  • Set clear core and development criteria to ensure that the conditions of production and trade of all Fairtrade certified products are both socially and economically fair as well as environmentally responsible-this means standing for social, environmental, and economic development, and against forced and child labor.”

Source:  Photo courtesy of Gallant International

  • There is an uneven distribution of wealth and resources between countries.

Although progress has been made, there is still much more to do.  Living conditions and quality of life differ greatly from country to country and area to area.  As an individual, your quality and duration of life largely depend on the randomness of where you are born.  The having or lack of having opportunity  depends mostly on your arbitrary birth location.  And, it’s not just about the individual achieving economic stability and health. The society as a whole needs to benefit or else there is no progress made.  The results of years of unequal progress have produced today's present state of global inequity.  The thing that gives people a chance for a good life are positive, sustainable changes for the economy and society.  The ability to work and earn a good wage, the opportunity for education and good healthcare and the tending to and replenishment of natural resources.  These conditions can make it so that  the people and local economy thrive.  In this way, the things that were  once only attainable by the elite or “lucky ones”,  like education, healthcare and livable wages are within reach for the many.   

We as a society are only as strong as our weakest.  When one is sick everyone is sick. A perfect example is unfolding right in front of our eyes with the COVID-19 global pandemic.  We will not be able to fully say we have defeated COVID-19 until every last one of us has been vaccinated.  In the light of this, the WHO  (World health Organization) unveiled  a global plan to “buy and fairly distribute” the vaccines needed around the globe with the goal of ending the most intense phase of the pandemic this year


Source: https://ourworldindata.org/global-economic-inequality 

  • Together, producers and consumers have power.

Fair Trade is based on partnerships. These partnerships are based on a dialog of transparency, acknowledgement and respect that farmers' and producers' concerns matter as much as any economical, commercial factor.  Fair Trade is now a part of our common vernacular and culture. For example, the month of October has been designated as “Fair Trade Month” and campaigns such as Fair Trade Americas’ “Choose Fair Trade: Choose the World you Want” being launched featuring murals in LA, Nashville, and Denver, cites and areas where mural art is a key part of the culture.  This is in addition to digital campaigns, partnerships and press outreach.

 Source: https://www.fairtradeamerica.org/for-partners/fair-trade-month/

It is initiatives like this that hopefully will bring more continued attention to Fair Trade and help individuals realize that they can make a difference and influence positive changes in our world for people and the environment.

Consumers are backing companies that are Fair Trade. Consumers, companies and organizations are becoming more and more actively involved in supporting makers and farmers and promoting awareness.  The championing of  Fair Trade can and is changing our international, conventional trade practices.  The “Fair Trade Certified” term and Fair Trade logo have become desirable qualities and assets for products and companies. If an organization is certified Fair Trade, that means it commits to meeting the specific standards of farming, growing, manufacturing, and producing as outlined by fairtradeameric.org:  https://www.fairtradeamerica.org/get-certified/the-certification-process/

You may not think of this as top of mind when  you are browsing or making purchases.  But everything, every product, every component has a link to people, areas, environments, and circumstances that led it to your shopping cart. 

We may unwittingly be exploiting people and areas in developing countries by our purchases and thus unwittingly become part of the problem.  Humanity cannot rise to its best iteration of itself as long as we have poverty and abuse of our fellow humans and our planet.  Our people and planet will not fully thrive to their highest potential as long as there is global inequity of opportunity to access health, education, and decent living standards.  It will keep on self-propagating and ultimately we will all pay a steep price for our shortsightedness. By buying Fair Trade certified products, you can rest easy that the product you bought was ethically and fairly made with no mistreating of the workers or the environment.

At Terra Thread Home, we are proud to be offer Fair Trade certified, quality, luxurious 100% certified organic cotton products are made with the strictest environmental, social, and economic guidelines.  Our products are produced in safe, sanitary environments by at-will employees being paid a fair wage. We are proud to be a part of a global movement of producers, businesses, certifiers, and consumers who consider people and the planet first, working together to create products that benefit the people who made them and the land it came from, treating resources as finite.

 Source:  Photo courtesy of Terra Thread Home

 

Source: https://www.fairtrade.net/news/five-reasons-why-fairtrade-is-the-global-movement-for-trade-justice

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_trade

Source: https://traidcraftexchange.org/blog/2019/5/10/what-is-fair-trade-and-why-is-it-important

Source: https://www.fairtrade.org.uk/What-is-Fairtrade/

Source: https://www.fairtradecertified.org/why-fair-trade

Source: https://ourworldindata.org/global-economic-inequality

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/global-covid-19/global-response-strategy.html

Source: https://www.fairtradeamerica.org/get-certified/the-certification-process/

Source: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/09/who-unveils-global-plan-fairly-distribute-covid-19-vaccine-challenges-await