Fair trade is a sales model that honors each participant in the production and purchase process. It focuses on sustainability and protection of the environment, and is rooted in fair economic practices and interpersonal connections. When you purchase an item labeled as fair trade, you are helping support fair prices, environmental protections, direct trade, fair labor conditions, and local communities.
Why Buy Fair Trade
Our modern world economy puts a heavy focus on the bottom line: in the decision between two similar products, price is usually the deciding factor. However, this practice often discriminates against small farmers, craftsmen, and labor cooperatives, since their per-unit production and materials costs are higher than those of mass producers. Additionally, major manufacturers may employ unjust business practices, such as low wages or poor worker rights, to maintain low prices for their finished products.
Fair trade, on the other hand, honors the developing world's small businesses and promotes equal rights for workers and producers around the world. Additionally, this business model supports social development, helping fund schools and community growth, and directly benefits some of the world's poorest communities.
Fair Price & Fair Labor
The international Fair Trade Labeling Organization sets the price for all Fair Trade Certified™ products, ensuring that each item is priced justly. By these standards, a fair price adequately covers the cost the production and living wages for workers. A living wage is defined as sufficient to cover medical care, education, food, shelter and cost of living.
Fair trade companies, farmers and artisans respect their environment and engage in sustainable production. For example, fair trade farmers avoid the use of most agrochemicals by employing natural methods like crop rotation and biological pest control. Almost 85% of Fair Trade Certified™ coffee is produced organically.
The conventional supply chain employs many intermediaries – buyers, exporters, and importers, among others. Fair trade supports a more direct route, connecting a producer or cooperative to a fair trade distributor, then to the store. This process allows for less profit dilution, and fosters long-term relationships between producers and importers.
Support Local Communities
Without fair trade, artisans, farmers and cooperatives from small, developing communities would not have access to the global market. By purchasing fair trade items produced by these workers, you contribute directly to their local economy. In fact, many fair trade producers invest profits back into their businesses and communities. Additionally, all fair trade sales include a "social premium," which is a set fee paid to the cooperative that must be invested in community development. Each cooperative makes a collective decision as to how to invest their social premium.