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Fair Trade: The Beneficial Way to Shop

We all love to shop, but have you ever taken a minute to consider how these products were made, manufactured or distributed? The process isn’t always a pleasant one. Luckily, a new concept has been invented known as Fair Trade.  

What is Fair Trade?

Fair Trade is an equal partnership between global marketers and producers in Asia, Africa, Latin America and other parts of the world. Fair Trade stores provide unemployed artisans and workers the chance to not only earn an income, but also to improve their quality of life by creating a market for their products. Stores like Ten Thousand Villages, Global Exchange, Revive, MomentuM, Global Stewards and Fair Indigo all sell Fair Trade products. Though these are some of the top stores and sites, thousands of Fair Trade stores are popping up all over the country. Some Fair Trade products include baskets, coffee, bracelets, pottery and jewelry. 

Carmen Iezzi, Executive Director of the Fair Trade Federation clarified some of the differences in selling Fair Trade products and being a Fair Trade store.

“Some places may sell one product, like coffee, that has been certified, whereas other companies might be 150 percent committed to Fair Trade; it’s all that they do,” said Iezzi.

Iezzi also noted that there are two kinds of Fair Trade organizations. The first is Product Certification. This type allows the Fair Trade Labeling Organizations International (FLO) to set standards for it. FLO follows the supply chains of specific agricultural products from their point of origin to point of sale.

The second type is Organization Evaluation. The World Fair Trade Organization and the Fair Trade Federation (FTF) evaluate this type.  Those two organizations monitor the store to make sure they are fully committed to Fair Trade principles.

Well, that all sounds great, but how can YOU get involved? It’s easy!

  • Intern or work with the Fair Trade Organizations
  • Fundraise for their student groups or invest/donate to the Fair Trade Organization
  • Convert different departments on campus: athletics, dining services, the bookstore, local boutiques, etc. into Fair Trade organizations
  • Host a speaker or show a film on Fair Trade
  • Follow FTF on Twitter or Facebook
  • Celebrate World Fair Trade Day on May 8, 2010
  • Read books on Fair Trade

    • Think Fair Trade First — Ingrid Hess
    • Fair Trade: A Beginner’s Guide — Jacqueline DeCario
    • A Guide for Retailers: Creating a Successful Fair Trade Business — Kimberly M. Grimes
    • Javatrekker: Dispatches from the World of Fair Trade Coffee —Dean Cycon
  • Attend the Fair Trade Futures Conference September 10-12, 2010 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (If you can’t attend, you can still help by sponsoring a producer)

For more information visit the Fair Trade Federation’s Web site.




Carmen Iezzi, Executive Director of the Fair Trade Federation


Rachel Dozier is a senior at James Madison University in the School of Media Arts & Design. She currently serves as the Managing Editor for her on-campus newspaper, The Breeze, and last year she started JMU's only student-run magazine, Port&Main, which won first place in the Best Student Magazine category from the Region 2 Society of Professional Journalists. She is interested in design, fashion, film and theatre. In the future she hopes to either be working as an entertainment writer or as a designer with a major fashion magazine.
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