How you can make a positive impact with your purchases
by Quinn Wilson
Most people don’t think of the person or the production process behind the companies or the products that they buy. From sweatshops to illegal wages, workers are often overworked, neglected, and disrespected. Fair trade is a concept based on equity and respect for people and the environment that prevents the problems previously mentioned. It ensures fair wages, safe working conditions, respect of cultural identity, environmental stewardship, and rights of children. The Fair Trade Federation outlines these and several other principles that lie at the core of fair trade practices here.
As a consumer, there are many different ways you can support fair trade workers around the globe. Buying fair trade food and ingredients such as bananas, cocoa, sugar, and coffee means that you are supporting companies that produce sustainably and treat their farmers with respect. In these farming industries, child labor is widespread, especially with cocoa farming. Large chocolate companies, such as Hershey, have promised to stop sourcing their cocoa from farms that use child labor, yet the companies have not kept their promises. This is why buying fair trade chocolate is a small way anyone can make a difference.
Fair trade does, on average, cost more than products that are not fair trade. This is what deters many from shopping consciously. However, it is important to keep in mind that the reason you can buy some items so cheap is because the person who made it works long hours without being paid anywhere close to a living wage. With fair trade, you're using your dollars to make a difference.
Additionally, there are other small shops or larger organizations that consumers can buy from to support fair trade. Fair trade offers you one-of-a-kind and handmade products that you cannot find anywhere else. Here’s a list of fair trade gift shops that sell home goods, clothing and jewelry stores, chocolate companies, and more:
A small chain of fair trade gift shops, Global Gifts, is another great option for supporting fair trade. Global Gifts is where I first learned about what fair trade is; I worked as a volunteer at one of their shops where I helped educate others about the importance of fair trade. To change the way the consumers shop, educating more people about fair trade is an important step. Every choice you make as a consumer has an impact on someone else’s life, so choose fair trade! Fair trade is the direction to go in order to support the lives of workers around the globe.
Shop smart and shop consciously! See you next week!