Fair Trade is a system of exchange that honors producers, communities, consumers, and the environment. It is considered as an organized social movement that aims to help producers in developing countries to make better trading conditions and promote sustainability. It advocates the payment of a higher price to exporters as well as higher social and environmental standards. It focuses in particular on exports from developing countries to developed countries, most notably handicrafts, coffee, cocoa, sugar, tea, bananas, honey, cotton, wine, fresh fruit, chocolate, flowers, and gold.
It is a model for the global economy rooted in people-to-people connections, justice, and sustainability. When you make Fair Trade purchases you are supporting:
A Fair Price for Products
For Fair Trade Certified™ products, a base price for the commodity is set by the international Fair Trade Labeling Organization. The price attempts to cover the cost of production and a living wage to cover the basics of food, shelter, clothing, education, and medical care. Importers and retailers are then screened and certified by TransFair USA to ensure that they are paying the Fair Trade price for products. Crafts, apparel and other non-certified products are sold by members of the Fair Trade Federation, businesses committed to the principles of Fair Trade. For these crafts, a living wage is paid in the local context.
Investment in People and Communities
“Many Fair Trade producer cooperatives and artisan collectives reinvest their revenues into strengthening their businesses and their communities.”
Many Fair Trade producer cooperatives and artisan collectives reinvest their revenues into strengthening their businesses and their communities. In addition, for each Fair Trade product sold the cooperative also receives a set amount of money, called the social premium, which is invested in community development projects democratically chosen by the cooperative. Examples of project funded through Fair Trade include building health care clinics and schools, starting scholarship funds, building housing and providing leadership training and women’s programs.
Fair Trade farmers and artisans respect the natural habitat and are encouraged to engage in sustainable production methods. Farmers implement integrated crop management and avoid the use of toxic agrochemicals for pest management. Nearly 85% of Fair Trade Certified™ coffee is also organic.
Other sites for reference on the Fair Trade movement are:
Green Tips is provided by the Press and Publications Subcommittee of the Sustainability Committee.