What is Fair Trade?
By choosing Fair Trade products you help ensure fair working conditions and sustainability in the production of everyday products we all use.
By now we've all seen Fair Trade on packaging in our local supermarket but what does Fair Trade mean?
Fair Trade is the practice of producing items in the most fair and sustainable way possible. This means that the workers are paid a fair wage and not subject to abusive conditions, as well as attempting to use materials that are replacable and with as little impact on the environment as possible.
The concept actually goes back to the 40's and 50's when religious and political groups started developing fair trade supply chains which was a way of taking products from developing countries, usually handicrafts, and distributing them at churches or fairs for donations which were sent back to the area.
There are four main segments of production and distribution in the fair trade chain: production, importers, retailers and labeling.
Production involves producing the products and ensuring that the people who grow or make the products earn a fair wage and have adequate working conditions.
Importers are the people or companies who buy the products directly from the producers then distribute the products directly or to retailers.
Retailers distribute the merchandise via online or brick and mortar shops. They get the merchandise from the importers or occasionally the producers directly.
There are organizations that monitor these activities and allow labeling displaying a Fair Trade symbol to be placed on the products if all conditions are met. Today there are labeling initiatives in 20 countries and they mainly issue labels to edible items.
Fair Trade products can be more expensive than mass produced goods. We've all heard about the nearly slave-like conditions several everyday products come from. Fair Trade aims to see that those workers make a fair wage, but that means that the final result costs a little more. Sometimes the extra cost is just pennies but it means the world to someone in the fair trade chain.
Today there are a wide range of Fair Trade products and even stores that sell only Fair Trade goods.
A sampling of Fair Trade products
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