In late April I attended a fair trade luncheon put on by the organizations, Fair Trade Atlanta and Fair Trade USA. I felt honored to be invited and the talk was very interesting. Fair trade is something that I already believed in, but hearing the lecture really impressed me much more as to its importance. Fair trade is important, because it discourages slavery by giving the artisans fair wages and it makes sure that environmental and social laws are met. Did you know that there are currently 27 million slaves? The number is staggering. Fortunately, by ensuring that you buy fair trade whenever possible, you can help tell the slaveholders that we don’t want to use their slave labor anymore. One positive that the organizer pointed out is that we (the United States) are the largest consumer, so we can make the most impact in the fight against slavery. Unfortunately, there is only a 34% awareness of fair trade in America, as opposed to 84% awareness in many European countries. That’s where bloggers like me hope to help.
Here’s a little more on how fair trade works: fair trade seeks to eliminate slavery by making sure that every aspect of the business supply chain (consumers, business owners, importers, and farmers/artisans) follow environmental, economical, and social guidelines. As the name implies, fair trade sets a “fair” minimum wage that takes the cost of production and the cost of living into account. It also tries to be socially conscious by putting some of the money into a cooperative to help out the whole community.
There are several different fair trade organizations with differing levels of safeguards against slavery, but the presentation focused on one called the Fair Trade Federation, which ensures that 100% of the businesses that it represents are fair trade certified. What I liked about this organization is that it attempts to help keep the traditions and crafts of the area’s culture alive by supporting and teaching their traditional works. Gloria, a Mayan woman from their Guatemala project talked about how fair trade helps her community. She talked about how the program helps fosters independence and has enabled some of the women to send their daughters to college. How the organization targets women is another thing that really impressed me-over and over again it was repeated that helping the women helps the community, because the women will ensure that the fruits of their labor will benefit their children.
Unfortunately, fair trade products can be hard to find. The lecture said that fair trade coffee and chocolate are probably the easiest to find, which is great, because those are two of the products that have the highest rates of slave labor. I am very happy to announce that Starbucks serves fair trade coffee, especially since I go there about once a week! Hershey’s has said that it will be 100% certified by 2020, but unfortunately it is not yet clear exactly what certifications they will be meeting. Still, the fact that a major company is at least leaning towards being fair trade gives me hope.
For more information go to Fair Trade USA. I especially like their website, because it has a listing of all the companies that are fair trade, so it is really handy. Another great organization is the Fair Trade Federation. Also, sometimes companies use ethical practices, but don't want to pay the fee to be listed as fair trade, so if you don't see a company you like listed, go to their website and do a little more research. For instance, Lush, my favorite body care store, and Bare Escentuals, my favorite makeup company, appears to be fair trade, even though they are not listed as such.
I am very happy that my makeup, body care, coffee products are already fair trade or ethically produced and I urge you to also buy ethically produced products whenever possible. Slavery is illegal, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't exist, but using fair trade products can help send the message that consumers do not want to profit from slave labor.
Isn't that a beautiful basket? I love it! It's a fair trade product from the organization, Mayan Hands. They have many lovely baskets, bags, scarves and more at reasonable prices. Go to their website and use code GLORIA at checkout by May 31, 2013 and you'll get free shipping!
You are not worthless. You are not disposable. You are not merely the object of God’s wrath. You do not deserve to be abused.
Let me say that again:
You do not deserve to be abused.
You do not deserve to be threatened. You do not deserve to suffer. You do not deserve to be hated.
You are profoundly, infinitely, and intimately known and loved. You are valuable. You are precious. You matter.