Mindfulness | Fair Trade Awareness Month

October is Fair Trade Awareness Month…so what is fair trade any way? Why does it matter? Fair Trade does what we assume all businesses should do. Empower people to create a better life for themselves and their community. Unfair trade creates inequality and a never ending cycle of poverty.

“The unfortunate reality is that most trade disproportionately benefits corporations near the end of the supply chain rather than the people at the beginning. So farmers in the Global South growing cocoa, coffee and bananas are often left to subsist on little when big businesses are making money on their hard labor.” Fair Trade America

Fair Trade what does it mean?

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 – especially in the  (Global) South. World Fair Trade Organization

When you see a product with the Fair Trade Certified™ seal, you can be sure it was made according to rigorous social, environmental, and economic standards. We work closely on the ground with producers and certify transactions between companies and their suppliers to ensure that the people making Fair Trade Certified goods work in safe conditions, protect the environment, build sustainable livelihoods, and earn additional money to empower and uplift their communities. Fair Trade Certified 

Why buying Fair Trade matters

Fair Trade matters. Fair Trade is building a relationship and staying in communication with farmers and factories. Understanding their needs, and providing them with a fair wage for their work and products. A fair wage that supports a family, can send children to school thus preventing child labor and child trafficking and that can help a family be sufficient without the need for aid. Fair Trade connects makers to available markets without the need for aid. When people have a living wage, the need to financial assistance becomes unnecessary. Fair Trade chooses to put people & the planet before profit, it fights poverty, climate change, gender inequality & injustice. Fair Trade is also proof of concept that showcases the enterprise models of new economies. WFTO

The Good Tee Coconut Henley made from Certified Organic Cotton

Fair Trade in Fashion

That cheap $5 tee-shirt costs a lot more than you think. It was most likely made with forced labor, in unsafe working conditions with chemicals that are bad for people and our planet while also destroying waterways and communities’ access to clean water.

Your clothes should reflect your style, but they should also empower the people who make them instead of keeping them in a cycle of poverty and destroying the world. Fair Trade clothing is more complicated than coffee and chocolate, with a long supply chain from fiber to thread to dye to fabric and finally a finished product. Not to mention detail pieces. For example, those coconut buttons on the Coconut Henley from The Good Tee are all-natural and will eventually biodegrade, like the rest of the tee because they use 100% organic cotton. I was also recently listening to a panel on fair trade in Fashion at the Impact Fashion Show where I heard the creator of The Good Tee speak, and her passion for GOTS cotton and her ethical sewing center.

Buying fair trade fashion means you get to vote with your dollar for a world that believes the people who make our clothes get paid a fair wage for their work. The sweatshop mentality that has dominated fast fashion keeps communities and countries impoverished denying generations to overcome the cycle of poverty while padding the pockets of big business.

Fair Trade Certification

Certifications from different organizations mean different things so it is important to know the difference. Some brands can be certified by a few of these organizations so sometimes you see a few of these symbols on one product.

Fair Trade Federation

Fair Trade Federation this one certifies how YOU work with your artisan partners. If you are a business owner and know you work with your artisans in a fair way then this is a good certification for your business. As a consumer when you see this seal you can know they work with artisan partners fairly. Each ingrediant of the final product may not be fairly made but the company treats its artisan partner fairly.

Fair Trade USA & Fair Trade Certified these certify every aspect of your supply chain to ensure it is fair from beginning to end. Fair Trade certified and America certify from how the coffee or cotton was grown to finished product, this process can take much longer and is much more expensive. As a consumer when you see these seals check to see if they are for a specific piece, for example my The Good Tee Coconut Henley tee is made from Fair Trade Certified Cotton. This means the cotton fabric it’s self is certified fair trade not the final product.

World Fair Trade Organization certifies fair trade enterprises that are verified by an independent audit and review.

When you see these Fair Trade Certification labels these ensure the brand is certified and working toward a more just and equitable world. Yes, Fair Trade does cost more upfront, but overall it is worth it in the long run.

What questions do you have about Fair Trade?

References & More Reading:

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