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Cassandra Clifford
Executive Director and Founder of BTFF

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What is Fair Trade?

We are very often asked, "what is Fair Trade?" Therefore we thought we would give you a brief definition and overview to get you started on how to be a more conscious consumer.

 The Fair Trade label is applied to products that pass a standard certification system. In addition to agricultural consumables, Fair Trade versions of sports balls, clothing, rugs, and other products can be easily found. Fair trade certification empowers workers and communities to lift themselves out of poverty by investing in their farms/businesses and communities, protecting the environment, and developing the business skills necessary to compete in the global marketplace. Fair Trade is much more than a fair price, it enables safe working conditions, living wages for workers, prohibits forced child labor and slavery, promotes environmental sustainability, and encourages community development. However, please note that just because a product does not carry the label, it does not mean that it is not Fair Trade, as many smaller co-ops and others have not yet been able to afford the certification. Nonetheless, do not let this put you off, being a conscious consumer and knowing where your products come from is always a better way forward for everyone, so don’t be afraid to investigate and do some research.

There are sites like Fair Trade Proof.org and the list on Fair Trade USA will help you find brands that sell Fair Trade Certified productsto help you get started.  I have also compiled a list of some Fair Trade and Slave Free LinksShopping Fair Trade and Slave Free this Holiday Season on the Foreign Policy Association Blog.

Please remember this is only a brief idea and with anything the best way to know is to research and ask questions.  Best tip we can give you is to start small and choose one item/product you consume or use to go fair trade with, such as coffee, tea, chocolate or sugar. Once you fine your fair trade staple in that category move on to the next one.

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