How Fair Trade Sustains Communities
Have you ever wondered what the term Fair Trade really means? It’s just two words, but the impact it has on people’s lives is huge!
According to Globalissues.org over half of the world, 3+ billion people, are living on less than $2.50 a day. Women and children are typically impacted the most by unfair wages, poor working conditions and ongoing poverty. As poverty continues to rise, families do not have the ability to educate their children, so they must enter the workforce to help support their families. Women and children make up the highest percentage of workers across the globe. The International Labor Organization agency from the UN estimates that 218 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 are employed in unsafe working conditions.
Shopping Fair Trade gives you the opportunity to be a life changer in the lives of workers; farmers who grow our food, people that make our clothing and Artisans that create hand-crafted goods. Fair Trade is a social enterprise that helps producers in developing countries reach better trade agreements with businesses in developed countries. Fair Trade creates jobs, better working conditions, and life changing opportunities for people and their communities. It puts people and the planet first by offering fair wages and healthier and safer working conditions and changes the course of poverty in these communities.
An Example of a Fair Trade Supplier
A good example of how Fair Trade helps communities, is the case of the Wolof Tribe in the West African country of Senegal. Traditionally, the men of the tribe have had to leave their villages to work so they can make money to send back to their families. The women of Senegal remained in the village and created beautiful handwoven baskets made of Typha (cattail) stalks, and recycled plastic harvested from prayer mats. They would sell these baskets at the local markets to help support their families. But because they were only able to sell them locally, they were limited to how many baskets they could sell and therefore how much money they could make from their baskets. Through the Fair Trade Federation, they are now able to negotiate to sell their products in new markets across the globe, and large orders can be produced stabilizing their communities economy. The word Wolof means “work together to make our villages flourish”. Fair Trade has enabled them to do just that.
Non-profit organizations and businesses around the globe are helping to break the cycle of poverty by setting social, economic, and environmental standards in the form of Fair Trade. These organizations have teamed up with women in Peru, Africa, India and across the globe to bring their handcrafted goods to the global market, helping to support the health, education, and economic stability of these communities.
Fair trade not only profits the local economy by achieving better trading conditions to promote economic sustainability it also encourages improved social and environmental standards. It reassures transparency and respect which creates sustainable development in both parties and in the communities they serve.
How can you support Fair Trade?
- Be a conscious consumer. Think about what you are buying.
- If it’s really inexpensive, it probably is not Fair Trade.
- Most products that are fair trade either have some sort of fair trade certification label or will have information telling you about who made it and will mention fair wages or fair trade.
- Think about who you will be supporting with your purchase. Is it a large company where you have no idea who made your product or is it a small entity where you can track where and who made the product?