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Why Buy Fair Trade Gifts This Holiday Season

Oct 26, 2007
Definition of Fair Trade - The question "what is fair trade" might seem elementary to some, while others find it difficult to define without making broad generalizations. According to the Fair Trade Federation, it is "a more equitable and sustainable system of production and trade." Wikipedia defines fair trade as "an organized social movement which promotes standards for international labor, environmentalism, and social policy in areas related to production of Fairtrade labeled and unlabeled goods." The fair trade movement focuses in particular on exports from developing countries into developed countries.

Why Buy Fair Trade Gifts This Holiday Season

2007 has been marked by unprecedented growth in social, economic and environmental consciousness around the world. As we open our eyes to the reality that is socioeconomic inequality, environmental destruction and the exploitation of workers in underdeveloped countries, it can seem overwhelming. One person, after all, can only do so much. We live in a world where the dollar rules. Though this may seem unfortunate in many ways, it also gives us the power to make our voices heard with every dollar we spend. Vote with your dollars and be conscious of the impact your purchases have on the lives of others. Fair trade products make great gifts. Not only will the person receiving your fair trade gift be pleased, but it sends a message to the Big Box stores that we're not going to stand for their strong-arm tactics of beating down the price from local artisans and factories in third world countries to the point where they're forced to save money by cutting costs elsewhere in areas like being environmentally responsible, worker's rights, healthcare and product safety.

How Do You Know If It's Fair Trade?

That's the million-dollar question. Really, there's not much stopping unscrupulous companies from claiming something is fair trade and slapping some bogus label on it. But there are a few Fair Trade labels you can trust, including those from the Fair Trade Federation (see link below), and Trans Fair USA.

Where Can You Find Fair Trade Products?

There are many places on the web to buy fair trade products, including Gaiam (http://www.gaiam.com/retail/2/fairtrade) and the Two Hands Workshop (http://twohandsworldshop.com/). Whether you are shopping for fair trade clothing / apparel and jewelry, or would like to give the gift of fair trade handicrafts and toys, enlightened shops have begun to pop up not only on the web, but in local areas too. As for the Internet, all you have to do is search Google for "Fair Trade Gifts", "Fair Trade Crafts" or whatever it is that you're looking for and there is no shortage of opportunities to make conscious buying decisions. A good place to start finding fair trade products locally is to visit your nearest organic foods store (try Wild Oats or Whole Foods if you don't have smaller ones closer) and ask the people who work there. Eco Mall (http://www.ecomall.com/biz/) has an impressive list of eco-conscious and socially conscious stores from around the world. Another great place to find local fair trade stores is the Fair Trade Federation's Directory of Members by State and Territory (http://www.fairtradefederation.org/memret.html) .

Products Available at Fair Trade Stores

In general, you can find just about anything you want while shopping for fair trade holiday gifts. However, there are certain types of fair trade products that tend to be more readily available than others. These include: Crafts / handicrafts, jewelry, organic cotton bedding and fabric, clothing and apparel, coffee, rice and other food items.
About the Author
Everett is writes about Everett writes about corporate responsibility and product safety and is an online fitness marketing consultant.
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