Of the many causes October is known for, one of them is Fair Trade. But fair trade is one of those "buzzwords" a lot of people seem to be tossing around and you might be wondering, "what is it?" or "why is it so important to buy fair trade?" Well we've tackled those questions for you below.
With the modernization and industrialization of trade, we are often far removed from the source of our possessions. Instead of buying our clothing, food, or other items from a specific known vendor, we go to a local superstore to purchase items—and the only clue about where it comes from is a small tag that says “Made in _____.”
But do we know anything about the production process, and how that process helps—or harms—those involved?
Fair trade is a needed alternative to shopping at superstores, whether online or in person. With fair trade, you have much more knowledge about the production process and the origin of the goods.
As we explored recently, fair trade improves the global economy, helps alleviate poverty, teaches us about other cultures, is environmentally friendly, and brings people together.
Unfortunately, the outsourced items that most superstores carry do not share the same qualities. Take clothing, for example: In many countries—including India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and China—child labor, unhealthy working conditions, sexual abuse and discrimination, and underpayment are commonplace within the textile industry.
These negative practices perpetuate poverty. This is why, at Jesus’ Economy, we sell products from groups that represent positive economic growth. The goods in our fair trade store come from five main sources—from single artisans we work with directly; organizations we parter with that work with artisans; people receiving Jesus’ Economy microloans; cooperatives of artisans; and small business entrepreneurs.
Buying goods from organizations and cooperatives representing artisans benefits the community at large. Buying goods directly from the artisans empowers individuals to expand their business. As their business grows, these artisans are able to employ more individuals, resulting in a ripple effect of positive economic change within the community.
Furthermore, we have fair trade standards we uphold in all of our trade relationships. We require all our vendors pay fairly according to standard market values in their region. We require safe and healthy working conditions, sustainability, and transparency in practice. We make sure these businesses do not discriminate in any way, do not tolerate workplace abuse, and do not employ children.
All of our direct trade entrepreneurs must take a fair trade survey in addition to sending us photographs of the working conditions. We even make sure the companies our artisans get their supplies from are compliant with basic fair trade and environmental sustainability standards.
Our plans for our microloan program represent the difference buying fair trade can make. It can transform people’s lives. Imagine going from struggling to support your family to gaining marketable skills and growing a business—with support every step of the way.
By shopping fair trade, you can not only know where your goods are coming from, you can know you are helping provide someone with a better quality of life. That’s why we believe choosing fair trade is an important step forward toward a better world.
This post was previously published under the title "Why You Should Shop Fair Trade and Why It's So Important" and written by former Jesus' Economy writer, Kati Clair.