If you had told me when I began my career that after thirty three years I would still be on a huge learning curve, I am not sure I would have begun! At some point you think, doesn’t all of this just become second nature? The truth is our world changes quickly. With those advances come new ways of meeting the needs of others, addressing issues of our culture, and seeking justice. As I first began learning about fair trade practices some years ago, someone said to me, “I can’t have this pressure added on to me every time I go to the grocery store.”
I get it. I really do. Yet, we now live in a world where our interconnectedness as global citizens is intricate and undeniable. On a level never before experienced purchases we make have the power to make a difference in the life of a real person somewhere else. Connected we are and this is not going to go backwards. Isn’t it a wonder that something as simple as making a purchase can address issues such as child labor, fair wages, better working conditions, equality, environmental justice, to name just a few?
I agree. Not every product purchased can be verified to be fair trade. In fact most can’t. However, we can where possible make the effort to support fair trade practices. Why? Here are my reasons:
Fair trade practices treat and pay others fairly. I want to be paid fairly. Therefore I want others to be paid fairly. If I am getting something for nothing, I can be sure that someone somewhere paid for it in other ways.
Fair trade treats others with dignity. It is not offering aid or a handout. It is giving fair compensation for work and/or product.
Fair trade is better for the environment. Where fair trade practices are utilized attention is paid to how the product or manufacturing may be detrimental to the environment. Our earth is a gift. Caring for it is responsible and right.
Fair trade provides greater economic stability reducing the need for displacement of people in search of a better living. Most people do not want to leave their homes. They do so when they feel they have no other choice.
Fair trade offers greater protection for women and children, the most vulnerable in our society. Forced and child labor produces significant percentages of more than 136 types of goods sold worldwide including cotton, cocoa, and fish.
Fair trade advocates for better working conditions. Safety issues and length of hours worked are addressed. Where children are employed education and proper care are provided.
Fair trade connects us to other cultures making us better global citizens. We care about the women working in the garment industry, the children picking cotton or cocoa beans, the men working in the orchards.
When we purchase fair trade, we make a purchase that matters in the life of an individual somewhere. Our purchase accomplishes a purpose. It makes a difference. It is worth the effort.