Fair Trade and the Socially Conscious Shopper
Unknown to many consumers, our everyday spending choices directly affect people's lives around the world. Many products we enjoy are made in poor conditions that are harmful to workers as well as the environment. With increasing awareness, consumers are demanding more humane and more environmentally sensitive products - thus the term, “Socially Conscious Shopper”.
What is Fair Trade?
This year more than ever, consumers have been introduced to the concept that they should buy Fair Trade products. This leaves many consumers wondering exactly what Fair Trade is and how it helps. According to Wikipedia, “Fair Trade is an organized social movement and market-based model of international trade which promotes the payment of a fair price as well as social and environmental standards in areas related to the production of a wide variety of goods. The movement focuses in particular on exports from developing countries to developed countries, most notably handicrafts, coffee, cocoa, sugar, tea, bananas, honey, cotton, wine, fresh fruit, and so on.”
Simply put, Fair Trade means there is an equitable and fair partnership between marketers in North America and producers in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and other parts of the world. This agreement works to assure that low-income artisans and farmers receive a fair wage for their goods and can bargain collectively. Fair Trade helps workers escape from the cycle where profits rule and small-scale producers are exploited.
How Does Fair Trade Help the Environment?
Fair Trade gives workers a way to maintain their traditional lifestyles with dignity. Child labor or forced labor is not used and natural resources are conserved, helping the environment.
Gifts for the Socially Conscious Shopper
To support this movement, shoppers can choose from a range of goods to purchase, from agricultural products like coffee, chocolate, tea, and bananas from the global South, to handcrafted items like clothing, household items, and decorative works of art. Purchasing these items leaves consumers with the satisfaction of having done a sustainable good.
How to Find Fair Trade Products
Fair Trade products can be identified by the "Fair Trade Certified" label or the Fair Trade Federation logo on a product. This guarantees that a product's production has followed international fair trade criteria. This label is product-specific, meaning that it's presence on one product doesn't mean that all of that company's products are Fair Trade.
According to the Fair Trade Federation, The Fair Trade system benefits over 800,000 farmers organized into cooperatives and unions in 48 countries. Fair Trade has helped farmers provide for their families' basic needs and invest in community development.
For more information, visit the Fair Trade Federation  sites for further information.
Symbols to Look For