When you buy fair trade products you are benefiting the poor workers, usually in one of 70 countries, who have an arrangement whereby they get a fair wage for their work. That income standard helps to allivate their poverty, provides access to clean water, and food safety. Most often the workers will try to send their children to school as a first priority. These fair trade products are already scattered throughout our shopping world. We don't have to go out of our way to hunt for them; you'll normally see a special Fairtrade logo on their tags. (Although I've learned that some merchants are not aware they carry fairtrade products).
There's much more, but first, let's sort out some terminology. The Fairtrade organizations are trying to get us all to use certain words when meaning certain things.
According to fairtrade.ca "fair trade" or "fairly traded" refers to the whole concept of decency and fairness in our marketplace. However, Fairtrade applies to the certification system set up by Fairtrade International (FLO) and it's members, They are trying to get consistent international standards so that we as shoppers can expect a certain standard of quality in products, and the producers can expect a good standard of payment too.
fairtradecertified.org is another excellent site with lovely graphics, very easy to understand explanations, and help to understand this whole area of Fair Trade products and how to help others by purchasing them.
Quite simply - buying Fair Trade ensures you get good quality purchases, and at the same time the producers who grew, sewed, or crafted the products get a fair price for their hard work. Simply by being alert for the Fairtrade label when buying the ordinary things you need for yourself or your family, and buying them, you are boosting some other family's morale, and helping them to be self-supporting.
Not only that, but a part of that price goes into a Community Development Premiums fund. This is invested in projects like schools, wells and roads. They are not allowed to use child-labour; but now the parents can afford to send their children to school instead. They like to share their wealth.
Look for the Fair Trade Certified™ label on thousands of products. Coffee and chocolates are popular items, but you can also find this label on clothing, handbags, jewelry, kitchen goods, knicknacks, art objects. Do you have an MCC Ten Thousand Villages store in your community? That is FULL of such products.
Because, while you are able to shop freely online or in your local stores, purchasing the item with the Fairtrade label when you have a choice, you can make a larger difference in some artisan or small-scale farmer in the developing world, who normally subsists on less than $2/day. With a little regular success a number of these people are able to support their families and improve their standard of living. Their whole community benefits.
You are not tossing money into the air at random; you are getting what you need or want, yet at the same time, you are investing in dignity and independence for others. Often women and girls benefit with the biggest improvements. Children get an education instead of sweat labour in a dark factory.
www.tenthousandvillages.ca - this was started as an MCC project, but grew to be a big international business on its own. They carried fairtrade coffee among many other high quality items.Unfortunately, they have shut-down in 2020. I understand their website is going to be built, so that may mean it has just changed hands. We'll have to wait and see.
www.tbnetwork.org Terrific links here to shop for gifts that give twice, to your recipient, and the crafts person who made the gifts.
outreachuganda.org features silk tie-dyed scarves and beaded necklaces, among other things.
In case you are, or know a small business that wants to get involved, or needs financial help for Fairtrade business ventures, use this helpful link; www.businesspartners.co.za
Incidentally, I'm selling.... paper bead necklaces for a ministry in Africa, to help get some girls into school, who cannot attend any other way. You will find them on a site I built for that ministry, Vibrant Paper Bead Necklaces from Uganda. (I don't really have time to go around begging friends and strangers to buy, so I appreciate any sales I can make and then forward the money to Pastor Isaac and Christine for the girls).
See? There's so much we can do by shopping for Fair Trade Products!