Become an environmentally-friendly shopper! We have the power to improve our environment and to improve the quality of life for people through our purchases. Look for the fair trade label on items that you buy to ensure that they meet both criteria.
According to Eco Watch, eco-friendliness is part of the fair trade label for the following reasons. Products are free of genetically engineered ingredients and limited amounts of fertilizers and pesticides are used. In addition, there is an emphasis on the reduced water used in manufacturing, and the use of sustainable water sources. Finally, farm cooperatives receive additional payment for products that are certified organic.
There are other reasons to buy fair trade. I recently bought a lovely fair trade quilt made in India of recycled saris. It makes me happy to sleep under it, knowing that there was no child labor involved in making the quilt, and also that the people who made the quilt were paid a decent wage for their work. Contrast this with a quilt that I purchased years ago at a department store. Sometimes, when I slept under the department store quilt I wondered if the people who made it were paid well, or if they were exploited. Yes, I paid more for the fair trade quilt, but to me it is worth it! I’m sleeping with a good conscience under my recycled sari quilt.
One of the problems with free trade, as compared with fair trade, is that when large companies take over an industry, small producers are often forced to lower their prices to stay competitive. This adversely affects their earnings. To quote Paul Rice, Fair Trade USA founder and CEO, “Fair trade makes free trade work for the world’s poor.”
When we buy products made under the fair trade label, groups of farmers receive a guaranteed minimum price for their produce, or the market price, if the market price is higher. Also, no child labor or slave labor is permitted, and workers must be paid sustainable wages. Safe working conditions are another criteria for fair trade items. There is one more reason to buy fair trade. Fair trade license fees are given to fair trade communities for the following: schools, healthcare, daycares, and organic certification.