“Fair trade is not a charity; fair trade is simply a different way of doing business.” – Benjamin Conard
If you invested your time this morning in a cup of drip coffee with two teaspoons of sugar before shimmying yourself into a pair of jeans, you spent your time the same as I did. These things are staples in my life and my day-to-day routine. But if you asked me where my drink, my sugar and my jeans had been manufactured (after I’ve had my coffee, of course), I wouldn’t be able to give you a confident answer. And I’m not the only one.
The fact of the matter is that a majority of products that are sold by our most prominent corporations are supplied from large plantations and sweatshops that keep prices on their products competitive at the expense of their workers.
Yet, in light of this, fair trade organizations operate under the principle that workers and farmers must be given better prices for their work, safe and sustainable working conditions, living wages and the opportunity to develop their communities.
This means the term “fair trade” goes further than its eponymous meaning. Fair trade organizations ensure the fair treatment of the workers and farmers they do business with in more ways than by just giving them better prices.
Fair Trade certification includes standards that require sustainable growing techniques that are usually not employed by farmers who struggle to make a living. Instead of being encouraged to jeopardize their land and environment through unsustainable practices and the use of harmful toxins, Fair Trade certified farmers are able to practice sustainable growing techniques. This not only results in better product in exchange for fair prices, but is also good for the environment as well!
Gender equity is a stated goal of fair trade organizations. Within the organization itself, women who make a living as a part of a Fair Trade certified business are guaranteed access to healthcare, a safe work environment and rights within their job, including the right to unionize.
Usually, with every $3 cup of coffee that you buy, approximately 3 cents go to the farmer who produced the beans! Fair trade organizations found their business models in prioritizing the producer, making sure that they are able to make a living wage from their work.
So Many Other Ways Fair Trade Impacts the World!
In addition to the ways fair trade organizations work to impact the lives of their producers, they also make strides towards building up the communities their workers live in. From offering a living wage in exchange for high-quality goods to supporting their local communities’ improvements in infrastructure, education system and access to healthcare, fair trade organizations root themselves establishing a system that treats workers fairly.
Places That Support Fair Trade in the SLO Community
The amazing fair trade store, HumanKind, on Monterey St., sells a variety of fair trade goods from around the world. So many things in there make for excellent presents, and they even have adorable fair trade cards for any occasion!
Mama Ganache on Monterey St. specializes in Fair Trade chocolate! If you’re looking forward to chocolate bunnies for Easter or just want to satisfy your sweet tooth, try out Mama Ganache!
Linnaea’s Café on Garden St. downtown is especially proud of their fair trade coffee!
Blackhorse Coffee, at all four of its locations around SLO, only uses fair trade coffee beans as well.
In addition to using only locally-sourced produce and organic ingredients, Sally Loo’s Wholesome Café on Osos St. only serves fair trade coffee along with their delicious meals.
Steynberg Gallery on Monterey St. only uses Fair Trade coffee too!
There are so many more places around SLO county and California to look out for! Look for the fair trade certification stickers as you go about shopping to know where your dollar is going when you buy fair trade goods.