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Celebrate World Fair Trade Day Today

Celebrate World Fair Trade Day Today

World of Good, the socially responsible marketplace that was acquired by eBay in 2010, recently took a trip down to Guatemala to visit some of its artisan suppliers and to get a better sense of the social and political climate in which they operate. I spoke with Siddharth Sanghvi, co-founder of World of Good, about the trip and some of the impacts of fair trade — and since today, May 14, happens to be World Fair Trade Day, it’s a good time to dig a little deeper into the topic.

The World Fair Trade Organization, the group behind World Fair Trade Day, describes the day as “a global event to celebrate the achievements of Fair Trade and promote fairness in trading practices for the benefit of all.”

Fair trade improves livelihoods in some ways that are measurable, and some ways that are not. The boost to a family that is able to better feed, clothe, and care for itself is tough to quantify. But a newly certified bell pepper farm in Mexico reports that the average agricultural worker earns 140 pesos (about $13) a day — about twice the Mexican minimum wage.

On the ground, increases in income translate into real-life changes like more children getting an education, for example, because they can afford uniforms, books, and the transportation costs of getting to school. If a fair trade program doesn’t work directly with a community center or education program, the economic benefits alone are enough to improve livelihoods.

It Takes A Village…
In Guatemala, the World of Good group spent time exploring communities where, like in so many other countries around the world, people’s well-being relies on whether or not their goods are bought at a fair market price.

One of the most powerful experiences he said was meeting a group of men in a village one night who had day jobs or went to school, but spent their weekends and evenings carving spoons out of waste wood—in order to raise money to help elderly people in the village who had no support. They didn’t have much disposable income themselves, but they helped one woman build a house and take care of other needs she had.

“These guys don’t have much to start with, but they’re still going out of their way to support the people who have even less,” Sanghvi said, which for him was a reminder: “All of us can do something.”

Building the Fair Trade Marketplace
Sanghvi’s advice for people interested in doing their shopping ethically is to become familiar with the various fair trade organizations and to learn the right questions to ask—and then ask them. He said if you see a product in a store, ask the owner about how it was sourced. “It keeps all of us honest,” he said. “Otherwise, it could be easy for non-fair trade products to slip in the system.”

The key is to demanding fair trade practices from other sectors, not just coffee, tea, and other commodities. “There’s no reason why it should be a niche segment,” he said. “There’s no reason why anybody should be working in sweatshops.”

This post was originally published by Treehugger.

 

Related Stories:

At The Farmers Market: Local Craftspeople or Imported “Arts N Crap”?

The True Price of Chocolate

Why Choose Fair Trade? You Can Satisfy That Sweet Tooth and Stand Up Against Child Labor

 

Read more: , , , ,

Photo from IMs BILDARKIV via flickr
Written by Rachel Cernansky, a Treehugger blogger

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25 comments

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10:28AM PDT on May 11, 2013

I have seen and purchased fair trade coffee products in the past.

6:31PM PDT on May 16, 2011

Don't think so.

3:42PM PDT on May 16, 2011

I, too, would like to highlight the difference between what is being described as win-lose trade practice and Fair Trade by inviting people to visit the websites Danielle M has provided:

http://www.transfairusa.org/what-is-fair-trade

http://www.worldcentric.org/conscious-living/actionstotake/fairtrade

My most educative experience of Fair Trade was in Thailand, where I attended Fair Trade Day 2010. Here I met women from remote villages who made beautiful bags by hand and so many other products unique to the market. I found stationery made by people with mental illness and/or physical disability and who, traditionally, would have become burdens on their village. Instead, they were contributing to the social and economic wellbeing of their community. I purchased most gifts for my family here because they were beautiful in their own right and value added with a meaningful and feel-good story, simply due to their very nature.

9:00AM PDT on May 16, 2011

Wow more contraversy. I try to pay the people that work for me a fair price as well as the products I buy are priced at a fair price for the growers and workers. But like others have stated what about Fair trade for my work and efforts? I refuse to take part in the curent economic groth. I am buying the bare minimum growing more of my food and making do with what I have. I will save what I have and not loan it to the banks for no intrest. its better to get nothing for my savings than to let big buisness get ritch barrowing it for nothing.

7:21AM PDT on May 16, 2011

thank you, try to buy fair trade when available option.

6:32AM PDT on May 16, 2011

THANK YOU

6:23AM PDT on May 16, 2011

You mean UNFAIR trade to USA.

It's just another way to TAKE from the USA citizens and given to the poor citizens of every other country...parity and nothing more than communism and furthering NWO.

6:10AM PDT on May 16, 2011

I appreciate the fair trade idea but remember when it was real.
But not after N.A.F.T.A. was passed.
That was the final death knell for the American factory worker.

1:14AM PDT on May 16, 2011

Thanks.

6:33PM PDT on May 15, 2011

It seems that a few people commenting here do not understand what fair trade means.
Frank Pedigo said;
"There is no such thing as Fair trade . Look at our good friends Mexico . They send cheap labor products to the US with no tariffs ,but when we send American made products there we have to pay a TARIFF . When China sends a slave labor made product to the US there is no tariff ,but when we send an AMERICAN made product to China we pay a 40% TARIFF . So please tell me where all this fair trading is going on ? Besides who is there in Central America to make stuff they are all over here cutting wages and building poorly made buildings and putting American workers out on the streets ."

Although I agree with his point about tariffs and the shrinking American workforce, he isn't describing fair trade products or fair trade industries. He is more than likely in reference to products sold in Wal-Mart that are made in China. That there is not fair trade my any means. If Mr. Pedigo notices my comment, I hope that he will research fair trade and maybe visit some links that I will include below my comment. I will also hope that he will realize that products you see at Wal-Mart are not fair trade items by any means.

http://www.transfairusa.org/what-is-fair-trade

http://www.worldcentric.org/conscious-living/actionstotake/fairtrade

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