The term fair trade refers to the general movement, which encompasses many different organisations with the shared aim of alleviating poverty and promoting sustainable development by ensuring a just and transparent supply chain.
Fair trade brings products from "poorer" regions into developed economies. A minimum price is agreed on in advance to make sure that producers will be able to earn a living wage.
This protects producers from market fluctuations that can cause prices to drop below production costs. This is a common problem in the conventional marketplace.
Most Fair trade groups also use and promote long-term contracts which are meant to provide stability for producers. Some associations like Fair trade International also charge a premium on top of the minimum set price which is given back to the producers and invested in their communities, for example in healthcare or education.
Working conditions are audited to ensure that safety and health standards are being met. Child and slave labour are strictly banned. Workers under fair trade have a protected right to organise and unionise.
The fair trade movement emphasises the importance of protecting the environment. Without fair trade agreements, foreign companies can and do invest in farming and production in developing countries with little regard for environmental sustainability.
One long-term and high profile example of the damage that can be done is Chevron’s destruction of large swathes of the Amazon rainforest in the process of drilling for oil. Sometimes it is local industries that cause environmental damage out of desperation to cut costs and keep afloat in an increasingly competitive market.
Because of this reality, fair trade initiatives have stressed the importance of enforcing sustainable practices. These practices include water conservation, restricting various chemicals, prohibiting genetically modified organisms, encouraging biodiversity, and ensuring waste is responsibly disposed of.
As the consumer, we have the ability to purchase products that actually reflect these values by consciously purchasing Fair trade products.
Why we should purchase fair trade
- You are providing farmers and producers around the world a fair go
- You are supporting workers rights
- You are supporting the planet
- You are supporting developing countries