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.
Do you need to raise funds for your school, church or group and want products that are ethically made and free from child labor; something your group can sell with a clear conscience and know that you are helping families in a developing country to a better future.
These tips will help you raise funds ethically.
Choose your fundraising package wisely. Choosing Fair Trade products to use for your fundraiser gives back in many ways: the workers receive a fair wage, there is no child labor involved in the production, many products are environmentally friendly and produced in an eco friendly manner. Be sure to verify that the company is a member of a Fair Trade certifying organization so that you can be assured that the products are Fair Trade.
Before selling, take the time to educate your entire group of sellers about the impact they are making by selling these products. If you are using a Fair Trade fundraiser explain that the products are ethically made so when sales are made they will be giving a fair income to impoverished artisans. A triple impact with Fair Trade sales:
Educate your customers. In the same way you teach your group of sellers about an ethical fundraiser you should educate your customers - the people to whom you are selling. They will appreciate knowing exactly how much their purchase helps impoverished families in developing countries. The company where you purchase your fundraising packages should be able to supply you with literature about the benefits of their products and how it gives back and helps the artisans. Include this information with each sale.
Share your impact. After your fundraising sales are finished, take the time to measure the impact you have made on artisans and their families. Once again, the company where you purchased the fundraiser should be able to give you facts and figures on how you have helped women, children and families. Perhaps your sales have helped 100 women earn a fair income or helped to educate 200 children or built new homes for 15 families. Whatever the impact your sales make, your sellers as well as your customers will appreciate knowing how they have made a difference.
There are many options available in fundraising packages, so you may need to do a little bit of online searching to source a Fair Trade ethical fundraiser package. I encourage you to consider these tips and ideas and then extend your ethical shopping habits to fundraisers for your church, ball team, school, or other organization.
Fair Trade, ethically sourced fundraisers can be found here.
We read the stories of workers in sweatshops almost daily on the internet and other news media which causes me to pause and reflect on purchases I make each day.
Was that new scarf I purchased ethically sourced? Are my new kitchen towels Fair Trade or made in sweatshops? Where are the fundraising products made that our church and school use in their fundraisers.
These tips will give you ideas on how to shop consciously and shop your ethics.
From tomatoes, to a new skirt, to those school fundraiser products, you too can shop your ethics each day by taking a little time to consider your purchase. You really do vote your ethics when you make a purchase.
StyleWise - blog about Fair Trade and sustainable fashion, emphasis on thrift stores
Sotela, the blog - how to live a more eco conscious lifestyle.
Lake And River Co. - a green living blog
Lets Be Fair - a Fair Trade, ethical lifestyle blog
4AllHumanity - a Fair Trade fashion company that works directly with artisans in Guatemala
Kretyen Fair Trade - a local Fair Trade store in Kansas
Alternatives Global Marketplace - online Fair Trade store
GrassRoots Fair Trade - a local store in Alaska