October is Fair Trade Month.
So what the heck is Fair Trade anyway?
It is far more than a few words on a bag of coffee beans from Starbucks.
Fair trade[also known as Community Trade] is an organized social movement which promotes standards for international labor, environmentalism, and social policy in areas related to production of Fair trade labeled and unlabeled goods. The movement focuses in particular on exports from developing countries to developed countries.
Fair trade's strategic intent is to deliberately work with marginalised producers and workers in order to help them move from a position of vulnerability to security and economic self-sufficiency. It also aims at empowering them to become stakeholders in their own organizations and actively play a wider role in the global arena to achieve greater equity in international trade.
Essentially, with Fair or Community Trade products, you are purchasing things you always do, but instead of just making some fat man behind a mahogany desk even richer, you are assisting communities around the globe to become stronger, better business people and able to support themselves. It’s always a great feeling to know that you not only purchased something you need or love, but you are assisting a fellow person in the process.
How do you know something is certified Fair Trade?
From the TransFair USA website:
What is Fair Trade certification?
Fair Trade certification is a market-based model of international trade that benefits over one million farmers and farm workers in 58 developing countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America. Fair Trade certification enables consumers to vote for a better world with their dollars, simply by looking for the Fair Trade Certified label on the products they buy.
Fair Trade Certified agricultural products including coffee, tea and herbs, cocoa and chocolate, fresh fruit, sugar, rice, and spices (vanilla) are currently available at over 35,000 retail establishments in the U.S.
Fair Trade empowers farmers and farm workers to lift themselves out of poverty by developing the business skills necessary to compete in the global marketplace. By guaranteeing minimum floor prices and social premiums, Fair Trade enables producers to invest in their farms and communities and protect the environment. But Fair Trade is much more than a fair price.
Fair Trade principles include:
- Fair prices: Democratically organized farmer groups receive a guaranteed minimum floor price and an additional premium for certified organic products. Farmer organizations are also eligible for pre-harvest credit.
- Fair labor conditions: Workers on Fair Trade farms enjoy freedom of association, safe working conditions, and living wages. Forced child labor is strictly prohibited.
- Direct trade: Importers purchase from Fair Trade producer groups as directly as possible, eliminating unnecessary middlemen and empowering farmers to strengthen their organizations and become competitive players in the global economy.
- Democratic and transparent organizations: Fair Trade farmers and farm workers decide democratically how to use their Fair Trade revenues.
- Community development: Fair Trade farmers and farm workers invest Fair Trade premiums in social and business development projects like scholarship programs, quality improvement trainings, and organic certification.
- Environmental sustainability: The Fair Trade certification system strictly prohibits the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), promotes integrated farm management systems that improve soil fertility, and limits the use of harmful agrochemicals in favor of environmentally sustainable farming methods that protect farmers' health and preserve valuable ecosystems for future generations.
So how can you support Fair Trade?
Visit this site for more information about Fair Trade Month
Shop with companies that provide certified Fair Trade products. Some of my favorites:
This gorgeous silk scarf. I love the jewel tones and the beaded trim adds a touch of whimsy. This scarf is long enough to double around your neck with a lightweight fall coat, to make a shawl of sorts for the evening, or to add color to almost every outfit in your wardrobe.
How about for the sports fanatic in your life? Holidays are right around the corner and this soccer ball is professional grade yet cheaper than many of the popular brands. That, AND it is certified Free Trade? Pretty awesome!
How gorgeous are these cruelty-free leather blank books? A great treat for yourself and always a great gift for others. I personally am coveting the pink one to write all my random ramblings when on the subway or waiting to meet a friend. It’s size would fit perfectly into my bag!
How gorgeous and unique is this purse? I can totally see it with an LBD this winter with some killer strappy heels, and it would be great in the warmer months with a linen shift or sundress.
I am also loving this beaded cuff bracelet. I find it amazing that if you purchase this bracelet you can fund 2.5 months of a scholarship for a child in the community of el Tablon. Stylish and socially conscious, a gorgeous pairing.
And this necklace is utterly gorgeous, a real statement piece and though it does help others, it is far cheaper than many similar styles from designers. Nothing is more chic than wearing a piece that not only makes you look good, but make you feel good for doing something positive.
I know my mantra is to buy quality, not quantity. I also believe us women need to be careful with not just what they purchase, but where they purchase. Vote with your pocketbooks, it is possible to be chic, stylish, maintain a budget AND help the world and community around you. This month, and this upcoming holiday season, consider Fair Trade retailers for your purchases.