Lately everyone is using the term “fair trade.” But what is fair trade exactly? Fair trade is the movement to put an end to the exploitation of poor regions for their natural resources. In order to get fair trade certification in the United States there is a rigorous process of fact checking that must occur to ensure that:
- The people producing the product are working in safe conditions and being compensated with a living wage
- Profits are being used to help develop the community
- No genetic modification (GMO) to food is allowed
- No child labor is allowed
- No hazardous chemicals are used
Fair Trade Products
Most stores carry at least a few fair trade products, most commonly coffee and chocolate, tea and sugar. Any fair trade product will be labeled with the fair trade certified logo generally found in one of the 4 corners on the front of the product. Flowers, cotton, fruit, clothes, jewelry, spices, wine are other items are joining in the fair trade movement. The growth of this kind of commerce is expanding exponentially and is expected to exceed 5 billion dollars in 2012.
According to the World Bank, 2.7 billion people exist on less than $2 per day. In certain parts of the world, thousands upon thousands of children work on cocoa, coffee or cotton plantations and factories and work in hazardous labor conditions. Fair trade certified means that the supplier has been thoroughly investigated for these kinds of practices and absolutely does not participate in them. In the U.S. alone we can choose from over 7,000 fair trade products from 58 countries.
The Fair Trade Movement
The fair trade movement is starting to take hold and gain ground globally. It is now possible to create grocery shopping lists full of fair trade products. This is a positive thing for all nations, and especially for women and children. Community development and humane work practices will provide the world with quality products, not at the expense of ethical standards. By providing money for education the children can go to school and female workers have ways to make money for themselves and their families to help promote equality and independence. The extra cost to the consumer in the U.S. is minimal and as consumers start to demand only fair trade products, companies that practice exploitation will be cut out of the equation completely.
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