START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good
Oct 3, 2007
Focus: Workers Rights
Action Request: Various
Location: United States

Greetings and Happy Fair Trade Month!

If you're looking for ways to celebrate and spread the word about Fair Trade, our latest Guide to Fair Trade is chock full of advice, and is now available as a printed booklet, in addition to an online download. Thanks to all of our members who made an extra contribution to move this popular guide from online to hard copy. It will now go to communities all over the country to accelerate Fair Trade everywhere – and will be available to everyone at our fall Green Festivals™.

What's more, you can now take action to make your town a Fair Trade town, following in the footsteps of towns in Pennsylvania, Vermont, and all across Europe.

If that's not enough, here are three more ways to make trade fair in October:

  1. Make it a Fair Trade Halloween -- If you hand out candy for Halloween, plan ahead to offer Fair Trade chocolate, a sweet treat that protects people and the planet. Find chocolate companies in our National Green Pages
  1. Take action with your supermarket -- Thousands of Co-op America members have already taken action, and the success reports are starting to roll in. Use Fair Trade month as an opening to talk to your grocer about stocking more Fair Trade products.
  1. Hold a Fair Trade house party -- Serve Fair Trade snacks, display Fair Trade products from around the world, and make it fun for your guests to pay attention to where things come from. Two of our green business members, Pachamama and A Greater Gift, even offer kits and supplies to make it easy for you. 

Thanks so much for all you do, and for celebrating Fair Trade month with us.

Here's to making trade fair,
Alisa (signature)
Alisa Gravitz
Executive Director
Co-op America

P.S.  If you’d like copies of the printed version of our Guide to Fair Trade, just contact us to order them.


Action: Make Your Town a Fair Trade Town

Fair Trade Certified

Last year, when Media, PA became the first Fair Trade town in the US, we reported in our summer Co-op America Quarterly on the Fair Trade town trend in Europe (which has more than 250), and hailed Media as a hopeful new sign for Fair Trade in the US.

Today, we're happy to report that Brattleboro, VT became the second US Fair Trade town over the summer, and what's more, Fair Trade advocates across the country can now turn to our allies at the newly launched Fair Trade Towns USA campaign for help in making their town go Fair Trade.

Launched just yesterday in celebration of Fair Trade month, the new Fair Trade Towns USA Web site offers tips and guidelines for anyone who wants their town to go Fair Trade.  To be recognized as a Fair Trade community, Fair Trade Towns USA offers five goals, including formation of a local steering committee, widespread media attention and public support, and passage of a local resolution in support of Fair Trade.

To learn more about the Fair Trade Towns campaign, visit their Web site, and if you help your town go Fair Trade (or take any of the other action steps mentioned above), be sure to tell us about it.

Visit »


News: Cafe Campesino -- Fair Trade Coffee since 1998

coffee and cup

We wrapped up our interview with Tripp Pomeroy last Monday, and then Tripp jumped on a plane to Nicaragua, for one of his many visits during the year to the cooperatives that grow the coffee roasted by his business, Café Campesino. Such close relationships across the supply chain are a hallmark of Fair Trade.

"Café Campesino works directly with small producer cooperatives in Nicaragua, East Timor, Ethiopia, and around the world, to purchase and import some of the best organic green coffee beans in the world," says Tripp. "We then bring the green beans to our headquarters here in Georgia, where we roast 'em to-order and ship 'em out to coffee houses, markets, restaurants, fundraising groups, and individuals all over the country."

Find out how a pile of dirt inspired Tripp and his partners to create Café Campesino (almost a decade ago!) by reading our latest interview. 

Read Tripp's green business interview »


Resources: Order print copies of our Guide to Fair Trade

fuel efficient car

Earlier this summer we told you about our new online Guide to Fair Trade.  Now, we're pleased to inform you that we've updated and expanded the guide, and we've printed copies that you can use to educate your friends, family, colleagues, and community, or hand out at local events. 

The guide gives you tips for spreading the word about Fair Trade, and resources for finding hundreds of Fair Trade products (wine, sugar, olive oil, sports balls, textiles, crafts, musical instruments, and much, much more) in your own community, or with a simple click of a mouse. 

To download a copy of the expanded guide, visit our Fair Trade Web site, or to order copies of the printed version, contact us at

Find Fair Trade resources and
download the guide »

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Posted: Oct 3, 2007 8:54am
Sep 17, 2007
Focus: Corporate Responsibility
Action Request: Visit - in person
Location: New York, United States
Rep. Charlie Rangel:
Don't Trade Away Animal Rights
 and the Environment
w/ the Peru Free Trade Agreement!

Rep. Charlie Rangel, Chair of the US House of Representative's Ways and Means Committee, is Congress' strongest and most influential supporter of the Peru Free Trade Agreement (PUFTA), which will destroy Amazon rainforests and expand factory farming!  Tell Charlie that we will not let him sell out animals and the environment for corporate profits!
Planning Meeting:
  Wednesday, September 19, 5:30 PM, The Brecht Forum, West Street between Bank and Bethune Streets, Manhattan, NYC. A, C, E or L to 14th Street & 8th Ave, walk down 8th Ave. to Bethune, turn right, walk west to the River, turn left.
OR, 1, 2, or 3 to 14th Street & 7th Ave, get off at south end of station, walk west on 12th Street to 8th Ave. left to Bethune, turn right, walk west to the River, turn left.

Sign, Banner, & Costume Making & Street Theater Rehearsal:
 Saturday and Sunday, September 22 and 23, 15 Thames Street, Brooklyn (L train to Morgan Avenue) Noon to 6 PM (or later).
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Posted: Sep 17, 2007 6:59am
Jul 24, 2007
Focus: Civil Rights
Action Request: Various
Location: United States
1. Tea — One of the fastest-growing segements of hte Fair Trade market, US imports of Fair Trade tea increased an impressive 187 percent in 2005. Since then, herbal tea products like chamomile, hibiscus, peppermint, and spearmint have gained Fair Trade status. Tea lovers can find teas bagged, loose, and bottled.

Look for green, black, oolong, chai, rooibos, and much more in the National Green Pages™ »

2. Chocolate — The average American eats 12 pounds of chocolate a year, supporting an industry that saw retail sales of more than $16 billion in 2007. If you're among the 46 percent of Amreicans who say they can't live without chocolate, you can avoid the well-documented problem of child slave labor in the cocoa industry, and direct your share of that $16 billion toward chocolate that helps communities and the environment.

Look for candy bars, baking cocoa, chocolate chips, and more in the National Green Pages™ »

  3. Fresh Fruit — In Europe, where Fair Trade fruit has been available since the mid-1990s, Fair Trade bananas have reached a market share as high as 24 percent. In the US, Fair Trade tropical fruits like bananas, mangoes, and pineapples became available in 2004, and their availaibility is growing, especially in natural foods stores and food co-operatives. Find a store near you selling Fair Trade fruit by using TransFair USA's store locator.

Sign our letter to major supermarkets asking them to start stocking Fair Trade bananas »

4. Sugar Phosphorus run-offs from the conventional sugar industry in Florida have devastaed the ecosystem of the Everglades, and the sugar lobby has worked aggressively to avoid responsibility. Sustainabile alternatives to sugar like locally grown, organic maple syrup or honey can help you avoid the problems in the sugar industry, as can Fair Trade Certified™ sugar, introduced to the US in 2005.

Look for Turbinado sugar, ground cane sugar, and more in the National Green Pages™ »

5. Rice — While most of the white and brown rice consumed in the US was grown on US farms, most aromatic long-grain rice comes to our tables from small-scale farms in Asia where it was harvested by hand. Workers on these farms often find themselves squeezed by middle merchants and sickened by pesticides; Fair Trade ricemost of which is also organicprotects both workers and the environment.

Look for Jasmine, coral, Basmati, and more in the National Green Pages™ »


6. Vanilla — Working with a labor-intensive crop that yields a relatively low harvest, vanilla farmers are hard-hit when their market fluctuates, as it has since environmental disasters at key procuction centers in 2000. TransFair USA began certifying vanilla in 2006, and new Fair Trade Certified™ vanilla ice cream from Ben & Jerry's arrived in supermarkets in January 2007, joining their previous Fair Trade coffee and chocolate flavors.

Look for whole beans and vanilla extracts in the National Green Pages™ »

  7. Spices — The European Fair Trade certifying body (FLO) approved standards for Fair Trade spices in 2005. In Europe, products like ginger cookies and lemongrass soap have begun to appear with Fair Trade spices among their ingedients, as hopeful sign for the future of Fair Trade spices in the US.

Look for pepper, ginger, lemongrass, nutmeg, and more in the National Green Pages™ »


8. Wine — Introduced to the US market in 2007, Fair Trade wine has been produced in South Africa since 2003, and in Chile and Argentina since 2004. The South African certification process requires vineyard workers to maintain a legally protected minimum 25 percent interest in the winery, in support of the South African government's policies promoting equal land ownerships following Apartheid.

Look for Merlot, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, and more in the National Green Pages™ »

9. Olive oil — The Canaan Fair Trade Association uses the fair trade concept to empower marginalized Palestinian rural communities caught in conflict so they can sustain their livelihoods and culture. Farmers are guaranteed a minimum price, and receivea 10 percent Fair Trade premium above market price, plus a 10 percent organic premium above market price.

Look for olive oil (plus capers, almonds, and more) in the National Green Pages™ »


10. Sports balls — When the European Fair Trade certification body (FLO) created standards for soccer ball production in 2002, it was the first time a non-agricultural commodity had received certification. Since then, five Pakistani and Thai producers have achieived certification, ensuring that no child lavor is involved, and that workers receive a living wage in a healthy work environment.

Look for soccer balls, volley balls, and more, in the National Green Pages™ »


11. Arts and crafts — Producers of unique, handmade, artisanal Fair Trade products like jewelry, baskets, textiles, and other handicrafts belong to trade associations that screen for internationally recognized Fair Trade standards. For example, our ally the Fair Trade Federation links low-income producers with consumer marketers that pledge to: pay fair wages in the local context, support participatory workplaces, ensure environmental sustainability and public accountability, and suppply financial and technical support.

Look for Fair Trade craft products in the National Green Pages™ »


12. Coffee — Available since the late 1990s, Fair Trae coffee is the most widespread and recognizable Fair Trade commodity. Currently, it is the fastest-growing segment of the $11 billion US specialty coffee maket, and about 85 percent of Fair Trade coffee is also organic.

Look for Fair Trade coffee in the National Green Pages™ »
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Posted: Jul 24, 2007 6:07am
Mar 2, 2007
Focus: Human Rights
Action Request: Visit - in person
Location: New York, United States
Teach-in on Trade
Opposed to extending Fast Track?
Opposed to the Colombian, the Korean, or the Peru Free Trade Agreement?

If you’re concerned with U.S. international trade policy and its effect on both workers in this country and in Korea and the nations of South America you should come to the Teach-in on Trade for more detailed information on these agreements and a tool kit to help you work for their defeat. At the Teach-in we’ll prepare for a lobbying trip to Washington on Wednesday March 7.

Saturday, March 3
1 to 3:30 pm
NYU Kimmel Center
60 Washington Sq. South, Room 910
Take the A,B,C,D,E,F,Q/W. 4; 1,9/Christopher; N,R/8th St.; 6/Astor Place
For more info, contact: Leonard Morin @ <>

Hosted and Co-Sponsored by Oxfam@NYU

Co-Sponsored by NYC People’s Referendum on Free Trade, Wetlands Activism Collective, Global Justice for Animals, Koreans Against War and Neoliberalism, New York Committee in  Solidarity with the People of El Salvador,  Movement Against the FTAs, Polo Democratico, Health GAP (Global Access Project) and others.

The Teach-in on Trade will bring you information on what’s happening in Washington, information not generally
covered in the popular media. We also bring you:

• History of NAFTA & CAFTA & the lessons it has to offer.
• Fast Track – what does it mean and why does it matter.
• Briefing on agreements in the works: Columbia, Korea & Peru
• Another path to Fair Trade Agreements - voices from the South
• Sustainable localism – an alternative to Globalism

And we’ll talk about what we would like to see coming out of Washington: No to Fast Track. No to the Columbia, Korea & Peru Free Trade Agreements.

The Neoliberal agenda has produced the greatest disparity of incomes since the Great Depression; American wages have stagnated and poverty is rife throughout the hemisphere. U.S. “free” trade agreements – anything but free – seek to lock up economies for the benefit of Transnational Corporations, mostly owned by interests of the global north, and leave the rest of the world in peonage. We are now at a junction point. The overwhelming incompetence
of the Bush administration as evidenced by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and domestically by its failures in dealing with the aftermath of Katrina in New Orleans, brought about major changes in the 2006 elections results. People felt the effects of the Corporate agenda and their votes refl ected this. We are presented with an opportunity and a challenge, as the mixed record of the Democratic Party shows. (They did bring us NAFTA & CAFTA, after all.)
But popular outrage, both in this country and in the Global South, is sending a message to our representatives in Washington, that enough is enough, no more of these Corporate-flavored agreements, it’s time to roll them back in favor of the rights of workers and the rights of the environment.
, call 718-505-9762, or visit

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Posted: Mar 2, 2007 6:24am
Feb 16, 2007
Focus: Human Rights
Action Request: Read
Location: Israel
SOUTH AFRICA: Avocados, Diamonds at Core of Anti-Israel Trade Campaign

by Moyiga NduruInter Press Service
January 26th, 2007

A call from a South African trade unionist for national supermarket chains to stop importing avocado from Israel could ultimately lead to the banning of all imports from the Jewish state, if unions and human rights activists have their way.

Katishi Masemola, secretary general of the Food and Allied Workers' Union (FAWU), told South Africa's supermarket chains earlier this week that Israel produces avocado under "slave-type conditions". He says the International Labour Organisation (ILO) forbids the use of child labour which, he claims, Israel is employing on avocado farms.

IPS contacted the Israeli embassy in Pretoria, the capital of South Africa, for comment. It did not return IPS's call.

Masemola told IPS in an interview: "Israel is occupying parts of Palestine and it's frustrating its moving towards statehood. In those occupied territories, avocados are produced under harsh slave-type conditions. Israeli farmers hire Palestinian children and pay them peanuts."

"The amount of avocado the South African supermarket chains import from Israel is negligible. It's just two percent of the total avocado they procure from overseas and locally," he said. "The supermarkets can do without it."

Derek Donkin, general manager of the South African Avocado Growers' Association (SAAGA), said South Africa produces 100,000 tonnes of avocado a year. "Between 40,000 and 45,000 tonnes are exported. The rest is sold for local consumption," he told IPS from his organisation's headquarters in Tzaneen, a four-hour drive from South Africa's commercial hub of Johannesburg.

"South Africa imports a small amount of avocado during off season (November-February) when we don't produce avocado. Many of the avocados come from Spain," he said.

In a Jan. 16 letter to Shaheed Mohamed, the coordinator of the South Africa branch of the Sanctions Against Israel Coalition, Brian Weyers, marketing director for Shoprite Checkers, a leading supermarket chain, said the Shoprite Group imported only 1.12 percent of 6.8 million avocados which it sold in 2006 from Israel.

"We bought 93.85 percent of the avocados locally and imported 5.03 percent from Spain and Kenya," he said. Weyers said the fruit was out of season and that was why they were forced to resort to alternative sources.

"In the instance of imported avocados, these were bought from a company in Israel, Carmel Agrexco, whom we are assured also has many Arab growers supplying fruits to them for export," Weyers said.

"We must also point out that Shoprite is not the only company in South Africa that sells Israeli produce. Today we purchase Israeli minneolas, grapefruit, naartjies, and persimmons in most of our competitors' stores in Cape Town," he said.

When IPS began making inquiries, it found that the fruit debate was only the tip of the iceberg. "It's not only avocado. The main item that concerns us is diamond. Israel imports diamond from South Africa; polishes it and cuts it before selling it back to South Africa at almost ten times its original value. It does the same with gold," Mohamed told IPS by phone from Cape Town.

"Israel imports diamond worth three billion rand (about 430 million dollars) from South Africa a year. Israel doesn't produce a single diamond. Yet 30 percent of its GDP (gross domestic product) comes from diamond. The diamond could be polished and cut in South Africa to provide jobs for the estimated 40 percent unemployed South Africans," he said.

In the past 12 months, De Beers -- the leading diamond mining company in South Africa -- retrenched 1,200 workers out of its over 10,000 workers, according to Rivonia Mura Khosi, a union leader at the De Beers mine in Kimberly, South Africa.

"On top of that they want to retrench 400 more workers. Next week we are going to meet the management over the issue. If we can save the retrenchment, the better for us," he told IPS in an interview. "If not, then we'll try to negotiate a good package for them. It will be hard."

Slowly, the anti-Israeli coalition is growing in South Africa. "We haven't made the call to impose sanctions against Israel yet. We know Israel commits atrocities against Palestinians. But we are moving there. It's just a matter of months," Masemola said.

"We are making a call to mobilise South African workers. We want to all diamonds from Israel to be treated as conflict diamonds. We urge people not to buy diamonds from Israel," said Mohamed.

An international campaign targeting Israeli crafted diamonds is planned for February in South Africa, Britain, Canada, Australia and Ireland.

For its part, the De Beers Group denies any wrongdoing. "100 percent of De Beers' diamonds are certified as conflict-free. Currently, less than one percent of the world's diamonds are conflict diamonds. While today more than 99 percent of rough diamonds are certified to be from conflict-free sources the diamond industry has a zero tolerance policy towards conflict diamonds and will not rest until conflict diamonds are completely eradicated," it said on its website.

"While Sierra Leone is now at peace, currently Liberia, Republic of Congo (also known as Congo-Brazzaville) and the Ivory Coast are under UN sanctions," it added.

Under the 2003 Kimberly Process certification scheme, which groups 71 countries, diamonds must be conflict-free. The process was prompted by bloody conflicts in diamond-rich African countries, which have claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.

In Africa, Mohamed's coalition operates in Morocco and Egypt. South Africa hosts the only one, so far known, in sub-Saharan Africa. Mohamed's four colleagues attended the Jan. 20-25 World Social Forum (WSF) in Nairobi, Kenya, where they organised a demonstration against Israel.

Mohamed said the coalition is also targeting South Africa for selling aircraft and helicopter parts to Israel. He said Israel uses helicopter gunship against Palestinians. "By implication, we are involved in the murder of innocent Palestinian civilians by Israeli soldiers," he said.

The South African government, which has not imposed sanctions, nor introduced boycott regulations, on Israeli goods, is perceived to be pro-Palestine, given the history between the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO). The former apartheid regime worked closely with the Jewish state. 
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Posted: Feb 16, 2007 4:47am


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