Exploring Fair Trade Products with Sweets and Gift Ideas!

Hello Everyone! We are “あなたの恋応援し隊” from ENV203 Environmental Education Class. With the support of ICU Her Campus, we have decided to publish an article. It may take a while, but I hope you take the time to read and enjoy!

By the way, last Sunday was Valentine's Day. This year's Valentine's Day was different from the usual year, as we couldn't meet my family, friends, and partners as much as we wanted, and we think many people sent chocolates by mail or rewarded themselves at home. There is something we would like everyone to know as nowadays it's good to spend some time in our thoughts as we all are staying home.

Do you know what “Fair Trade Choco” is? Some people may have heard of the name, while others might be hearing it the first time. Don't worry, because, in this article, we will tell you about Fair Trade products, including Fair Trade chocolates. We will also introduce some places from where you can buy fair trade foods near ICU, such as Kichijoji and Mitaka so that those who are interested in this article can have some fun shopping with their friends.

  1. 1. What is a Fair Trade Product?

    Coffee Beans

    Have you ever bought chocolate, tea, or instant coffee at supermarkets and other grocery stores? For example, in the case of a value-for-money set of tea packs, even if there are dozens of bags, it doesn't cost too much.

    So, have you ever imagined the price of those products and their manufacturing processes? Chocolate begins with the cultivation and harvest of cacao followed by a transportation process. When it reaches the factory across the sea, it’s completed with a bunch of other ingredients. Then, the products are branded, transported to each store by truck, and displayed in-store. With the help and efforts of various people, chocolate reaches you and it's not heavy on your pocket.

    The fact that consumers can buy it cheaply means that the cost is kept down somewhere in the process and the countries that produce the raw materials and the people who live there are the most affected by the cuts in the cost. Specifically, labor is forced to work at lower wages as compared to advanced countries, or children are forced to work to keep their wages low. Besides, the effects on the natural environment of producing countries are becoming serious, such as cutting down forests and using an extensive amount of pesticides to improve work efficiency. The damage caused by these results in the destruction of nature and inflicting on people living in the country of origin.

    Fairtrade products are products manufactured, produced, or purchased through a "fair trade" in which raw materials are purchased at reasonable prices to eliminate the burden on such countries of origin as much as possible. That’s why the products are more expensive than the same kind of product you usually see, but that's the true value and price of the product.

  2. 2. What kind of fair trade products are there?

    Chocolate bars in wooden box

    So what kind of fair trade products are there? Here are some of them:

    ・Chocolate (Cacao beans)

    ・Tea

    ・Coffee beans (also instant coffee)

    ・Spices

    ・Fruits (e.g. grapes and bananas)

    ・Cottons

    …etc.

    There are also fair trade products of nuts and honey.

    There are several ways to distinguish between fair trade products. The easiest to understand is the product with the International Fair Trade Certification label. It is a world-famous fair trade label, and there is no doubt that the products with it are fair trade products, although there are some differences in raw materials. Others carry the World Fair Trade Federation (WFTO) logo. Some companies sell fair trade products with their own standards, even without these two labels.

  3. 3. Places near ICU to buy fair trade products

    Now, we are sure some of you want to buy fair trade products because you have read so far. However, at the same time, some people don't know where to buy fair trade products, and I think it's a high hurdle to go to a fair trade specialty store all of a sudden. Also, many people don't want to go far in the current situation. Therefore, this time I would like to focus on Kichijoji and Mitaka, which are close to the ICU, and introduce you to shops that are not specialty stores but are easily accessible. Also, since Kichijoji and Mitaka are not the only restaurants we are introducing here, if you are currently spending time far from ICU, please make sure to check shops near you. For those who do not want to go out but are interested in fair trade products, we will also introduce you to an online shop.

    ・Kaldi Coffee Farm (カルディコーヒーファーム)

    This shop sells coffee beans and imported ingredients all over Japan. There are shops near Musashisakai Station and Kichijoji near Isothere main fair trade products are coffee beans, so you can buy them as they are or have them ground in front of you. Fairtrade chocolates and instant coffee are also sold here. There is also an online shop, and you can order it from the Internet.

    ・Seijo Ishii (成城石井)

    This store also sells a lot of fair trade products. There are shops in the Kichijoji station building and Musashisakai near the ICU campus. They sell different kinds of fair trade chocolate, fair trade tea, and fair trade honey. There are plenty of other items available. You can also purchase some products online.

    ・Isetan (伊勢丹)

    If you are an ICU student who often visits Mitaka Station, you must have seen Queens Isetan, a supermarket in the station. You can also buy fair-trade chocolate at Queen's Isetan with beautiful towels and clothes using fair trade cotton. These items along with some food items can be purchased online at Mitsukoshi Isetan. This can make a precious little present for your loved ones as well!

    ・Co-op Mirai (コープみらい)

    Co-op Mirai also sells fair trade products. It is near Mitaka and Kichijoji stations near ICU, but it may be close to people living in residential areas. They sell fair trade fruits such as bananas and coffee. Their memberships offer a home delivery service by online order.

    The stores we introduced here are few. They have some fair trade products. If you are further interested in buying fair trade products in the future, please look for them in the shops you usually use and search nearby shops that sell fair trade products.  

How do you feel after learning about fair trade? We would like you to use this article as an opportunity to purchase fair trade products. If you feel that the product you bought is expensive, think about how many people work on making what you eat and what you use, and get paid for it. If you're concerned about the cost that someone is paid for, try replacing whatever you eat or use with a fair trade product.

This year’s Valentine's Day is over, but we have many other occasions to express our love for some special people in our lives on White Day in March. I think it's also the season when the seniors who have taken care of you graduate and your family and friends take a new step forward. Would you like to surprise them with some sweets made of fair trade chocolate and a fair trade handkerchief?

 

If you would like to know more about Fair Trade regarding this article, please check out the official website of Fair Trade Japan.

Coffee beans Photo by Pablo Merchán Montes from Unsplash