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How to Make the Switch to Fair Trade Products

Slowly but surely, I’ve been making the switch to fair trade shopping. If you’d like to try shopping for fair trade products, you’ll be surprised how easy they are to find in your local stores. You just need to know how to look for them!

You can find fair trade products in your local grocery stores, gift shops, markets, and clothing boutiques. They are surprisingly common, once you’ve learned to spot them.

The key is to know what to look for.

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.

Shopping consciously for fair trade products is a form of financial self-care.

Read All About Financial Self-Care for Women Over 50
coffee beans and wooden scoop in a burlap sack, shopping for fair trade products

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What Makes a Product “Fair Trade”?

Fair trade is a global movement made up of a diverse network of producers, companies, shoppers, advocates, and organizations putting people and the planet first.

The hallmark of any fair trade organization or company is:

  • accountability,
  • empowerment,
  • income equity,
  • environmental stewardship, and
  • individual and community well-being.

What does that mean in plain English?

When you buy fair trade products, you ensure that the farmer or artisan responsible for that product is:

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  • paid a living wage,
  • free from child and slave labor,
  • learning to rely on their 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.

fair trade infographic

How and Where Do You Find Fair Trade Products?

It’s easier than ever to shop for local and online fair trade products.

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 online retailer is MadeTrade.

Very often, small, independent fair trade shops can be found in many towns.

As fair trade grocery and food products become more commonplace, they are easier to locate at grocery stores large and small.

You can purchase fair trade groceries, furniture, clothing, and more!

Fair Trade Month raises awareness about the importance of the fair trade movement to our global economy and promotes buying from businesses that are committed to fair trade in place of those which may harm the environment, the economy, communities, and disadvantaged individuals.

Fair Trade Federation

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 multiple certification agencies are 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, some organizations follow fair trade practices but have not yet been certified.

Lack of certification doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not a fair trade item.

Fair Trade Food Shopping: Identifying Fair Trade Foods

Fair Trade Coffee Brands:

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 fair trade coffee brands include:

  • Higher Ground Roasters,
  • Equal Exchange,
  • Pura Vida,
  • Stumptown Roasters, and
  • Kirkland’s (Costco’s store brand)

Fair Trade Tea Brands:

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!

Fair Trade Sugar Brands:

Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods both stock fair trade sugar – spices, too – as part of their store brands. 

Fair Trade Chocolate Brands:

Chocoholics will find Green & Black, Divine, Equal Exchange, and Wildly Organic all make delicious tasting fair-trade chocolate.

Fair Trade Fruits and Vegetables:

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.

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Fair Trade Breakfast Items:

It’s easy to get the kids off to school on time with breakfast items like cereal or waffles from Nature’s Path Organics. 

Fair Trade Ice Cream:

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.

Fair Trade Alcohol Brands:

Wine down with fair trade wines from Six Hats, La Riojana, and others.

Suppose you prefer a cocktail? FAIR.Spirits distills fair trade vodka made from quinoa.

What Other Fair Trade Products Are Available?

Health and Wellness Products

Health, wellness, and vitamin supplies – especially at the independent (non-chain) stores.  For soaps, lotions, and other beauty and body products, look for brands like:

  • Dr. Bronner’s,
  • Sol Organics, and
  • CocoKind

Clothing and Accessories

There are many fair trade clothing labels, such as

  • glo-Green Living Organics,
  • Conscious Step Socks,
  • Pact Organics, and
  • Skunk Funk

Jewelry, Soaps, and More

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 specializing 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 online 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.

Related: How to Create a Gift Basket with Fair Trade Bath Products

Where Can You Learn More About Fair Trade Products and Practices?

Fair Trade Federation, Fair Trade America, and the World Fair Trade Organization are the primary certifying bodies for fair trade products. Their websites are so helpful in learning about fair trade.

“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

Final Thoughts on Shopping for Fair Trade Products: A Beginner’s Guide

Fair trade shopping isn’t hard to do. Once you become familiar with fair trade certification 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.

Read More:

hands holding a big scoop of fair trade coffee beans
hands weaving a colorful fabric, making a fair trade product
coffee beans and wooden scoop in a burlap sack, shopping for fair trade products

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