You have heard that purchasing Fair Trade makes a difference in the world, a difference in the lives of disadvantaged people, but do you really understand Fair Trade and why it matters?
Consider this information:
Earning a Fair Wage - The first tenet of Fair Trade to understand is that the artisan or producer of the product earns a fair income for their work and they do not work in sweatshops. Workers and especially women often are able to do their work in their homes so that they can care for their families and home without traveling to a factory to work.
Advance Payment - Since artisans cannot afford to purchase materials to craft the orders it is necessary to give advance payment for materials needed for crafting the products. In addition, advance wages are paid when artisans have an emergency need for their wages.
No Child Labor - The UN states over 215 million children are engaged in child labor around the world. Under Fair Trade guidelines children are not allowed to work on products.
Respect The Culture of the Artisan - One of the practices of Fair Trade is to respect the culture of the artisans. Many organizations do this through the designs and types of handcrafts that they ask the artisan to produce. For example, a weaving group may weave fabric that is a design style that is indicative of their culture and it is then sewn into a purse or other accessories for sale to the world market.
Protect The Environment - As a Fair Trade organization, you must consider how your work with the artisans impacts the environment. The use of natural materials, recycling and upcycling, low impact tools in the production of handcrafts and responsible use of chemicals in food products are all ways that help protect the environment.
Safe Working Conditions - Concern for the safety and welfare of the artisan is a priority with Fair Trade companies and organizations. Something as simple as a stool for backstrap weavers can reduce strain on their legs or a new lamp for correct lighting to sew or make jewelry will be very beneficial for the workers.
Transparent Long Term Relationships - When working with artisans it is important to develop ethical, trusting relationships through long term work along with transparency in the wages and pricing of the handcrafts.
As you can see when Fair Trade guidelines are followed, products can then be ethically sourced, ethically made, eco friendly with many benefits for the artisans. When claims are made that a product is Fair Trade it is imperative to verify that the company is a member of a Fair Trade certifying organization so you can be assured they are following the guidelines of Fair Trade..
Fair Trade really does matter with each and every purchase.