By: Sydni Dobson
Ever wondered to yourself where the necklace you are came from or who made it? Or maybe you wondered where your morning coffee originated from or who even gathered the beans.
The majority of products we wear, eat or drink have a label on them informing us where they come from or what materials/ingredients are in them. For most, that’s all we need to know. Yet, we actually should think about the people who actually make our products, not just what country they originate from. If you look at the tag in the back of your shirt, it will give you the material of the shirt along with what country it was made in. For example, your shirt might say “Made in Indonesia.” The real question is, who in Indonesia made your shirt? Was it a 24 year old woman or 30 year old man? Or could it had been a nine year old girl who made little to nothing in the process of making your shirt? This is where the principles of Fair Trade and responsible consumerism come in.
Fair Trade products are made with respect to people and the planet. According to http://wfto.com/fair-trade/definition-fair-trade , Fair Trade products are slave-free, child-labor-free and exploitation-free. Adults are paid a living wage, so that children don’t have to work to help support their family. Fair prices are paid to producers in developing countries.
Originating in the United States, Fair Trade has been around for more than 60 years. It all started when Ten Thousand Villages began buying needlework from Puerto Rico in 1946, and SERRV began to trade with poor communities in the South in the late 1940s. The first Fair Trade shop opened in 1958. http://wfto.com/about-us/history-wfto/history-fair-trade
Fast forwarding to now, more products are available for purchase under the Fair Trade than just handicrafts. The current Fair Trade Certified products available in the U.S. include coffee, tea and herbs, cocoa and chocolate, fresh fruit, flowers, sugar, rice, vanilla, and even body care products. Fair Trade USA provides sources for these and many other Fair Trade Certified products.
Although Fair Trade has been around for more than six decades, many people aren’t aware of the issue of unfair working conditions in other countries. Working conditions in other countries aren’t fair in comparison to the working conditions in the US. Here is where you can make a difference and promote equality amongst everyone. Shop Fair Trade. Eastern North Carolina Stop Human Trafficking Now is an advocate for Fair Trade and sells products that are certified. If you’re interested in making a change in the world, take a look at ENC’s website: https://encstophumantrafficking.org/shop/