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Fair Trade - A Closer Look

What is it?

Maybe you’ve seen the words “fair trade” on a bag of coffee, a clothing tag, or a chocolate bar. You could come across it on many types of products from jewelry to shampoo to greeting cards. But at it’s heart, fair trade isn’t about products. It’s not about being unique, exotic, or hand-made. It’s not about quality, value, or even sustainability. Fair trade is about people; people like you and I. They work hard to provide for

themselves and for their families, the necessities of life and hopefully the added comforts we all desire. These men, women, and children may live thousands of miles away and have ways of life vastly different from ours, but they nonetheless deserve rights, respect, and value equal to ours.

Unfortunately, because these people are so far removed from our daily lives it has become much too easy for companies, and therefore consumers, to dehumanize them. With no faces or names to keep us connected, we have found it acceptable to take advantage of their desperate plight and treat them as merely means to an end: more stuff for our closets.

What can we do?

The fair trade movement was started to end this tragedy. Every worker deserves fair wages, fair treatment, and safe working conditions, whether here in the United States or in a distant developing country. We can make a stand for this, making a difference in thousands of lives and communities, by making conscious purchasing decisions and choosing to support companies that uphold these standard human rights. Organizations such as Fair Trade USA <> and Fairtrade International <> have created high economic, social, and environmental standards that companies must maintain to put the fair trade label on their products. This encourages sustainable practices, environmental responsibility, fairness, integrity, and innovation in developing countries and enables consumers to make empowering purchases that support these outstanding companies and their employees. With a system that values the people involved and not just the profit made, you can not only feel good about the resulting products but you will get clothes or a backpack or a chocolate bar made with heart and a quality and distinction that is unmatched. That's why we choose fair trade, will you?

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