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?

There Is an Alternative: Fair Trade

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.

The Benefits of Sourcing Directly 

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.

Making a Difference through Fair Trade

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.

Today is World Fair Trade Day, when people around the world come together to support products that lift people out of poverty. In honor of World Fair Trade Day, here are four ways that fair trade is a Christian value. But before we jump in, you may be wondering, what makes a product "fair trade"?

Defining Fair Trade

The term “Fair Trade” describes an economic exchange in which laborers receive a fair living wage. The basic goal of fair trade is to create a more just and equitable world, where people are paid wages that adequately provide for their needs and are commensurate with their labor.

Fair trade matters for the sake of our world. And it matters for Christianity—here are the four primary reasons why all Christians should support fair trade.

1. We Are Opposed to Exploited Labor

The majority of what we purchase in the U.S. is based on unjust economic exchanges. The exploitation of labor in developing nations reduces the costs we pay here in the U.S. And as such, a large portion of clothing manufactures, and producers of other items, aim to pay people the smallest amount possible. This is a practice that we as Christians should oppose—not just with our words, but also with our wallets.

While it is not possible yet to buy everything you need from a fair trade manufacturer, there are many fair trade options. One day, God willing, we will be able to buy everything we need at fair trade wages and fair trade will be the norm.

2. The Bible Advocates for Justice and Equality

Fair trade represents justice and equality. And justice and equality are key tenants of Christianity. On this point, the prophets especially come to mind. Over and over again the prophets call us to live the principles of justice, mercy, and humility (e.g., Micah 6:6–8). Near the beginning of the book of Isaiah, the prophet Isaiah records God saying:

“Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause” (Isaiah 1:16–17 ESV).

We should plead the widow’s cause by buying products that empower women. We should learn to do good by understanding the implications of our purchases. We should live the principles of justice. If we desire justice, then we should make justice a priority when it comes to our purchases. If we believe in equality, then we should back that with our entire lifestyles.

3. Fair Trade Creates Jobs for the Impoverished

Work is central to who we are. It was a major part of the lives of the apostles and something they advocated for (e.g., Acts 18:3; 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:10). But work is not an option for some—they lack the opportunity. And where work is available, it is not a fair exchange. We can change that through creating fair trade jobs.

If done right, fair trade is one way to change lives through business. Fair trade products are purchased at a price that allows for people to overcome poverty. Fair trade creates safe, sustainable, and profitable jobs. It also provides high quality products for people around the world to use and enjoy. 

4. We Can Create a Jesus Economy

If Jesus was to create an economy, it would be based on love and self-sacrifice. But fair trade isn’t even asking for self-sacrifice; it’s asking that we simply respect people—that we show them the dignity of being paid what their work is worth.

Fair trade represents life transformation for impoverished artisans. It represents a chance for their dreams to become real. It means their families having sustainable incomes and real money coming into their economies.

Jesus envisioned a world where we truly loved our neighbors (Mark 12:31). Fair trade is a way for us to show his love. It’s a way to live what we believe.*

For more on fair trade, see the Jesus’ Economy Fair Trade Standards. Also, check out the Jesus’ Economy online Fair Trade Shop, where you can alleviate poverty simply by shopping. 

Shop Fair Trade

 

*This article is adapted from my earlier article, "Why Fair Trade Matters to Christianity." The artisan featured above, Benson, is a living example of why fair trade matters: Read Benson's fair trade story.

 

Our Bible study should inform our practices. Yet when it comes to our purchases, it rarely does. But there is a solution—and it’s biblical.

Introducing and Defining Fair Trade

The term “Fair Trade” describes an economic exchange in which laborers receive a fair living wage. And fair trade is based on Christian values.

Here in the U.S., we believe in equitable exchanges. It’s why we have a minimum wage. It’s why we request raises commensurate with our achievements. But are we really living these principles in all aspects of life? The hard truth is that we aren’t.

Fair trade matters for the sake of our world. And it matters for Christianity—here are four reasons why all Christians should support fair trade.

1. We Are Opposed to Exploited Labor

The majority of what we purchase in the U.S. is based on unjust economic exchanges. The exploitation of labor in developing nations reduces the costs we pay here in the U.S. And as such, a large portion of clothing manufactures, and producers of other items, aim to pay people the smallest amount possible. This is a practice that we as Christians should oppose—not just with our words, but also with our wallets.

While it is not possible yet to buy everything you need from a fair trade manufacturer, there are many fair trade options. One day, God willing, we will be able to buy everything we need at fair trade wages and fair trade will be the norm.

2. The Bible Advocates for Justice and Equality

Fair trade represents justice and equality. And justice and equality are key tenants of Christianity. On this point, the prophets especially come to mind. Over and over again the prophets call us to live the principles of justice, mercy, and humility (e.g., Micah 6:6–8). Near the beginning of the book of Isaiah, the prophet Isaiah records God saying:

“Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause” (Isaiah 1:16–17 ESV).

We should plead the widow’s cause by buying products that empower women. We should learn to do good by understanding the implications of our purchases. We should live the principles of justice. If we desire justice, then we should make justice a priority when it comes to our purchases. If we believe in equality, then we should back that with our entire lifestyles.

3. Fair Trade Creates Jobs for the Impoverished

Work is central to who we are. It was a major part of the lives of the apostles and something they advocated for (e.g., Acts 18:3; 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:10). But work is not an option for some—they lack the opportunity. And where work is available, it is not a fair exchange. We can change that through creating fair trade jobs.

If done right, fair trade is one way to change lives through business. Fair trade products are purchased at a price that allows for people to overcome poverty. Fair trade creates safe, sustainable, and profitable jobs. It also provides high quality products for people around the world to use and enjoy. 

4. We Can Create a Jesus Economy

If Jesus was to create an economy, it would be based on love and self-sacrifice. But fair trade isn’t even asking for self-sacrifice; it’s asking that we simply respect people—that we show them the dignity of being paid what their work is worth.

Fair trade represents life transformation for impoverished artisans. It represents a chance for their dreams to become real. It means their families having sustainable incomes and real money coming into their economies.

Jesus envisioned a world where we truly loved our neighbors (Mark 12:31). Fair trade is a way for us to show his love. It’s a way to live what we believe.


For further information on fair trade, see the Jesus’ Economy Fair Trade Standards. Also, check out the Jesus’ Economy online Fair Trade Shop, where you can purchase beautiful products made by developing world artisans. 

The artisan featured above, Benson, is a living example of why fair trade matters: Read Benson's fair trade story and learn how you can get 10% off plus free shipping on the leather bags and totes he manufactures.