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What is Fair Trade? A Beginner-Friendly Guide

Jul 21, 2008
Fair Trade is a new buzzword. After you have read this article, you'll have a better sense of how Fair Trade impacts the global marketplace and how you can make a difference with your purchasing power.

Fair Trade is a name for an economic and environmental program that offers growers and producers of many different types of goods fair wages and resources for the items that they produce. Instead of creating a marketplace based on the lowest prices possible and harsh work conditions, it is a way of recognizing products and companies that think about the impact on humanity and not just the bottom line.

In practice, this means that the workers receive their country's minimum wage or a living wage, which includes extra money to help with food, clothing and other necessities. It is a movement geared at reversing the impact of the "sweat shop" mentality that so many producers have relied upon in the past. With Fair Trade, it's about getting work done for honest pay and not building an industry on the backs of third world nations.

Fair Trade producers also work toward developing practices that help preserve our natural resources. Instead of harvesting and destroying an area of the world, this kind of trade aims at sustainability. The planet has only so many resources, so it is important to preserve the ones that we have.

By buying these kinds of products, you are supporting all of these principles and encouraging the program with your dollars. Fair Trade helps developing nations while you get some great quality products at the same time. You can easily find coffee, chocolate, sugar, bananas, handmade items, flowers, honey and fruit that are all made under the fair trade principles. Any time you need some of these items, try to buy Fair Trade.

You can easily identify these kinds of products by looking for the Certification Mark on products at the grocery store or local market. This labeling system ensures that Fair Trade isn't used as just a label. There are strict guidelines that a company and a product need to meet in order to become qualified. They have to prove that they have fair employment practices and are based on environmentally sound principles.

You can also find these items at retail stores in the form of textiles and other artisan items. Handmade handbags and clothes can have the Fair Trade label. If you can't find any in your local area, there are many options for your shopping needs online.

Make sure to encourage Fair Trade in your area by asking your grocer or local shopkeeper about carrying these kinds of items. Educate your friends and family about the benefits. Let them know that their support can make a difference in whether or not there are such items in your area.

When you make the effort to buy Fair Trade items, you're making a difference. Even though the price may be slightly higher than conventional items, it's serving a greater purpose. Help support this new movement and change the way people live all around the world.
About the Author
Jamie Jefferson writes for Momscape.com, where she shares coupon codes from merchants that spotlight fair trade goods as well as promotions for Organic Style.
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