How Buying Fair Trade Products Helps End Poverty
Did you know that buying fair trade products can help end poverty for even remote villages around the world? Have you ever bought a fair trade product before? Do you know what it means to buy a fair trade product? If your answer to any or all of these questions is “No,” you’re not alone. Many consumers are unaware of the existence of fair trade products, let alone where to buy them or the benefits of supporting the fair trade industry.
What is Fair Trade?
You know the old adage, “Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime?” That pretty much sums up the purpose of fair trading: to teach producers and developing communities to become self-sufficient rather than put a short-term financial band-aid on poverty.
Fair trade is a market-based approach to promoting financial sustainability. It helps fight poverty by respecting the rights of manufacturers and through the exchange of goods, rather than through handouts. It is to help the impoverished become more empowered.
According to the Fair Trade Federation, “Fair Trade is a trading partnership based on dialogue, transparency, and respect. This system of exchange seeks to create greater equity and partnership in the international trading system.”
The Principles of Fair Trade
Fair trade educates and empowers producers and manufacturers by compensating them fairly, upholding their rights, and connecting them to the market. The fair trade system encompasses and encourages the following principles:
- Anti-slave, anti-child labor
- Environmentally-friendly processes
- A respectful relationship between manufacturers and buyers
- A fair wage for the manufacturer
- Gender equality, particularly in regards to wages and working conditions
- The development of communities
- The promotion of self-sustainability
- The Goals of Fair Trade System
The goals of fair trading include (but are not limited to):
- Creating opportunities for economically marginalized and disenfranchised manufacturers
- Developing transparent and respectful relationships
- Promoting fair trade
- Fairly paying producers (and without delay)
- Supporting safe, healthy and empowering working environments for manufacturers
- Fighting the use of child labor, and to ensuring the children’s rights
- Community impact of fair trade
By buying fair trade products and supporting fair trade practices, communities are able to obtain the resources and skill to meet their needs independently. Those who make the products you buy will be able to pay their children’s school fees; their nutritional needs can be met; they can afford to pay for their health care costs; they can afford to build or repair their homes; and the poor, women, and children all become empowered. Fair trading also lessens the negative impact production may have had on the local environment.
Buying Fair Trade
Fair trade forces everyday consumers to ask themselves, “Who makes my product?” By buying fair trade products, you will be participating in a sustainable trade system—one that rewards manufacturers fairly for their work while aiding in the eradication of poverty.
Find local fair trade organizations and stores that support fair trade products. There are also many online sources of such products. To make sure a seller is selling fair trade products, look for information attached that says why the product is fair trade, or look for the Fair Trade Federation or TransFair USA logos.
Introduce others—friends, family, neighbors, etc.—to fair trading products and encourage those at your school, business, community and home to learn more about it. Also, regularly ask local stores to carry more fair trade products from fair trade organizations.