Explain to me in 5 minutes: What is Fair Trade?

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noun: fair trade; noun: fairtrade

trade in which fair prices are paid to producers in developing countries

You may already be familiar with the Fair Trade moniker- is most commonly seen on coffee beans and high-end chocolate. The Fair Trade emblem is also moving into the fashion space by serving as an indicator that the artisans and farmers that produce the cotton or other materials used in a product are being treated ethically. Overarchingly, the mission of a fair trade business model means that new markets, mainly in the global south, have the ability to enter the economic marketplace and flourish fairly as producers to the western economy.

A fair trade label indicates to the consumer that the producer has been certified against the following criteria:

  1. Prices paid to suppliers, artisans and farmers justly reflect their work and respect the local living wage

  2. Workers have the right to organize and form unions to have a voice

  3. National health, safety, and wage laws are enforced

  4. Products are environmentally sustainable and conserve natural resources to the best of their ability

While Fair Trade certification does encourage better consumer action, it’s not fail-proof. Certified or not, it is important for a shopper to judge a brand by the transparency of its supply chain and business. For example, certification cannot guarantee that some workers do not slip through the cracks; there are often power struggles and other layered issues that riddle the workplace and may affect the overall well-being of a worker.

Supporting Fair Trade Certified products are a way for a consumer to think ethically-forward. When you buy fair trade, you are empowering the entire supply chain to propagate respect towards the communities- the men, women and their families- that create the goods you love.

That’s just fair.

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