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Fair Trade has come into its own. There are all kinds of fair trade products available to us all. It’s not just coffee and chocolates anymore! You can find fair trade products of every kind in your local grocery stores, gift shops, markets, and clothing boutiques. But how do you know if a product is really fair trade?
To start with, it’s important to understand just what fair trade means, and why those products are worth choosing over mass-produced (and often cheaper) versions of an item.
Why Should You Choose Fair Trade Products?
Fair trade is a global movement made up of a diverse network of producers, companies, shoppers, advocates, and organizations putting people and planet first.
The hallmark of any fair trade organization or company is accountability, empowerment, income equity, environmental stewardship, and individual and community well-being.
Plain English? By purchasing fair trade products, you ensure that the farmer or artisan responsible for that product is paid a living wage, is free from child and slave labor, and is learning to rely on their own abilities to provide for their families.
Fair Trade means caring about the lives of the people who make the products. Doing things for the global population. Caring about people you may never meet, and allowing them to have the dignity of providing for their families.
Where Can You Find Fair Trade Products?
It’s easier than ever to shop for fair trade products both locally and online. Many retailers highlight their fair trade inventories, making switching to fair trade products a snap! Rest assured, the quality will be equal to – or better than – the conventional products you’ll be leaving behind.
October has been designated World Fair Trade Month, and World Fair Trade Day falls on May 9th (don’t ask me why they fall at different times, I have no idea!) So particularly around those times, fair trade products can often be found front and center at any retailer that offers them.
Some retailers even focus exclusively on fair trade products – the largest of these being the nationally-known Ten Thousand Villages. Another well-known retailer is MadeTrade. Very often, though, small, independent fair trade shops can be found in many towns. As fair trade groceries become more commonplace, they are easier to locate at grocery stores large and small.
You can purchase fair trade groceries, furniture, clothing, and more!
How Do You Know If a Product is Fair Trade?
The first step in identifying fair trade products is to become familiar with fair trade labels – there are several, as there are multiple certification agencies awarding the fair trade designation.
This seems like it could be confusing, but once you are familiar with the labels, they are actually quite easy to spot. There’s a really good explanation of each label at www.fairtradewinds.net/guide-fair-trade-labels/.
The certification process for fair trade companies is rigorous. It is important to note that if a product is certified as fair trade, you can trust that it is. However, there are organizations that follow fair trade practices but have not yet been certified. Lack of certification doesn’t mean it’s not fair trade in all instances.
Fair Trade Brands to Become Familiar With
Coffee tends to be one of the first products people connect with fair trade practices.
Does your favorite coffee shop serve fair-trade coffee? Take a look at the menu or ask your barista when you stop in for your mid-morning pick-me-up.
If you prefer to make your brew at home, some of the most widely available brands include Higher Ground Roasters, Equal Exchange, Pura Vida, Stumptown Roasters, and Kirkland’s (Costco’s store brand).
If you are a tea drinker like me, try tea from Celestial Seasonings, HonestTea, Stash, Traditional Medicinals, Republic of Tea…there are plenty of fair trade choices for tea!
Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods both stock fair trade sugar – spices, too, as part of their store brands.
Chocoholics will find Green & Black, Divine, Equal Exchange, and Wildly Organic all make delicious tasting fair-trade chocolate.
Look for the fair trade certification labels on fresh produce. You can find Fair Trade America-certified produce such as Coliman bananas, Index Fresh avocados, or Nature Ripe blueberries.
It’s easy to get the kids off to school on time with breakfast items like cereal or waffles from Nature’s Path Organics.
I scream, you scream, we all scream for fair trade when we choose Ben and Jerry’s ice cream!
Does your local ice cream shop offer fair trade ice cream? Many artisanal ice cream shops use fair trade ingredients in their products. Generally they will display this prominently, but if you don’t see a label, be sure to ask.
Wine down with fair trade wines from Six Hats, La Riojana, and others. If you prefer a cocktail, FAIR.Spirits distills fair trade vodka from quinoa.
What Other Fair Trade Products are Available?
Great sources for fair trade products? Health, wellness, and vitamin stores – especially the independent (non-chain) stores. Experiment with brands like Dr. Bronner’s, Sol Organics, and CocoKind for soaps, lotions, and other beauty and body products.
There are many fair trade clothing labels, such as glo-Green Living Organics, Conscious Step Socks, Pact Organics, and Skunk Funk.
You will almost always find fair trade jewelry, soaps, fabrics, and gift products at your local farmer’s markets and craft fairs.
Many towns also have stores that specialize in fair trade home decor and accessories. Ten Thousand Villages, as I mentioned earlier, is probably the best-known chain, but there are many independent retailers as well.
For top-quality artisanal products, look to Made Trade. Not only will you find exceptional items of all types, but you’ll receive info on the organizations and artisans that create and provide these products.
Fair trade is a global movement made up of a diverse network of producers, companies, shoppers, advocates, and organizations putting people and planet first.Orsola de Castro
Dig Deeper Ito Fair Trade Products and Practices
“I am only one but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”Edward Everett Hale
Read More About Social Good:
- Give the Gift of Fair Trade
- Gift Guide: Fair Trade Bath Products
- The Best Online Sources for Organic Vegetable Seeds
- What is Kindness and Why is it Important?
Final Thoughts on How to Choose Fair Trade Products
Ultimately, there are many opportunities to shop fair trade. Once you become familiar with the labels, you’ll spot them easily on different products.
Knowing the names of some of the major brands, such as those mentioned in this post, is also a helpful way to identify these products.
Become a conscious and conscientious shopper, and help make the world a better place by purchasing fair trade products whenever possible.
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