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Happy Fair Trade Month! Understanding the Movement

There are so many reasons to love October. The leaves are changing, apples are ripe for picking, pumpkin spice- everything is in stores, and the thrill of Halloween (my personal favorite holiday) lingers all month long. October is also Fair Trade Month, an annual observation of the importance of the fair trade movement to our global economy, and a time to encourage others to buy fair trade. But what is fair trade anyway? Here is a breakdown of the term and some frequently asked questions.

What is fair trade?

Fair trade is a term for a trading partnership that seeks greater equity in international trade by paying fair prices to producers in developing countries. It is also described as a strategy for poverty alleviation and sustainable development.

What are the principles of fair trade?

The principles of fair trade are:

  • Create opportunities for artisans in economic and social hardships
  • Pay fair wages
  • Support safe working conditions
  • Empower artisans through education and job training
  • Ensure the rights of children
  • Respect and include cultural heritage in artisans’ work
  • Improved social and environmental standards
  • Secure the rights of marginalized workers and producers

What does the Fair Trade Certified label mean?

For a product to be Fair Trade certified, companies must undergo and pass extensive and frequent evaluations by third-party auditors who track all steps and transactions along the supply chain to meet Fairtrade International’s rigorous environmental and social standards. These standards ensure that workers are working in safe environments and are being paid a fair wage, that individual workers and communities are being empowered, and that environment is being protected.

When did the fair trade movement begin?

While there are different stories about the exact origins of fair trade internationally, the movement began in the United States 60 years ago, thanks to the company Ten Thousand Villages, the first official Fair Trade store. Fair trade was developed as a response to the increasing poverty in the South.

Which products can be fair trade?

There is a big emphasis on preserving countries’ culture and craftsmanship in many fair trade items. The first fair trade products were handmade crafts, but as fair trade has increased in popularity in recent years, so has the variety of items available. Some of the Fair Trade certified products you can look for are:

  • Chocolate
  • Sugar
  • Coffee and tea
  • Spices
  • Wine
  • Skin care products
  • Clothing
  • Jewelry & accessories
  • Shoes
  • Home decor

Wondering where to shop fair trade? I will be posting more articles to guide you as a fair trade consumer for the rest of the month. In the meantime, you can also learn more by reading my fair trade blog posts and visiting fairtradecertified.org

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