Today is World Fair Trade Day - do you know what that means? "Fair Trade" is a buzz term that has been tossed around quite a bit. Much like the word "organic," today's phrase actually refers to a specific certification that can be obtained, and yet, these words have been used incorrectly and are often mocked because of that. So let's set the record straight.
As defined by Fair Trade International: "Fair trade is an alternative approach to conventional trade and is based on a partnership between producers and consumers. When farmers can sell on Fair Trade terms, it provides them with a better deal and improved terms of trade. This allows them the opportunity to improve their lives and plan for their future."
As defined by the World Fair Trade Organization: "Fair trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers."
These are 10 Principles of Fair Trade as stated by the World Fair Trade Organization:
- Creating opportunities for economically disadvantaged producers.
- Transparency and accountability.
- Fair trading practices in concern for social, economic and environmental well-being.
- Payment of a fair price.
- Ensuring no child labor or enforced labor.
- Commitment to non discrimination, gender equity and women's economic empowerment and freedom of association.
- Ensuring good working conditions.
- Provide capacity and skillset building.
- Promoting fair trade throughout the world.
- Respect for the environment.
So, the basic idea is to provide disadvantaged producers and workers a chance in the world market without having to resort to unethical or non-sustainable business practices. Fair Trade producers will be audited based on working conditions, worker discrimination and environmental impact. The idea is that "trade not aid" is most effective in helping the people of developing nations rise out of a life of poverty. Fair wages for fair work - aka steady income and a supportive work environment - have a longer lasting effect than the occasional charity or volunteer.
The World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) and Fair Trade International (FLO-International) are the two major organizations that certify and provide the Fair Trade Certification Mark to brands and products. The certification cannot be obtained without an auditing and regulating of the production process by these and other organizations. Look for their certification mark as well as others when you want to know that people have been treated fairly in the production of your products.
Below are some of my favorite fair trade products! I'd love to know about some of yours in the comments below.
Green & Blacks chocolate bars are to die for. I love Maya Gold for its spicy and sweet notes, but whatever it is you're craving, they've got it.
You've all seen me in my Fortress of Inca Isabella flats before! Right now I've got my eye on these sassy Reyna Agata wedges and these summery Kina sandals. I love the quality and the style of this brand and they have a great business model. They focus on fair wages, quality materials, and the handmade process. Workers in Peru are treated and paid fairly at the factories where they are able to keep their traditional textile and leather working crafts alive working for Fortress of Inca. By the way, they also have great shoes for men!
Speaking of products for men, I love the t-shirts and sweaters over at Industry of All Nations. This company partners with artisans all over the world who are paid a living wage to make incredible handcrafted items. They are conscious of working conditions, preserving ancient techniques and protecting the environment in all that they do. Traditional Indian block printing and natural dying is a major point in their garments, which I absolutely love on a men's t-shirt!
Ace and Jig is an incredibly creative company that focuses on my favorite - textiles. They employ experienced textile specialists who are skilled in the ancient arts of dying and wooden loom weaving. The brand is completely transparent about their materials, their worker conditions and the entire process. I've got my eye on a few of their pieces for summertime!
There are tons of great companies out there that are Fair Trade certified! Tell me about the ones you love in the comments below.