What is Fair Trade?

We’re huge fans of the growing number of consumers who want to change the way they shop to make the world better. It’s more than a trend to DoneGood, it’s a part of our everyday lives and it has been since 2015. Lots of companies claim that they’re business practices are ethical and sustainable, but it can be hard to know if that’s actually the truth. One of the reasons our site exists is to make sure the brands on our site are doing the things they say they’re doing. 

So, what is Fair Trade and what does it have to do with what was just said?

Fair Trade is basically a promise to treat workers fairly through living wages and safe working conditions. The World Fair Trade Organization (an independent certifier) defines Fair Trade as “a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers.” 

Okay, now gimme an example of Fair Trade.

If you’re a coffee lover, you’ve probably seen the words “fair trade" on the bag. This means child labor or slave labor wasn’t used to make the beloved beverage that gets us going in the morning, and that the farmers and workers, who helped get it in our hands, were paid and treated fairly. For clothing and accessories, fair trade may look like not using sweatshops to mass produce products, and paying employees properly for the amount of work being done. 

How do we know a company’s supply chain meets Fair Trade standards? 

There are several independent certifiers, like Fair Trade USA and World Fair Trade Organization, that make sure companies’ ethical principles meet the fair trade standards. Certifiers may use third-party auditors like FLOCERT to make sure they’re checking all of the fair trade boxes.

What’s all the hype and why should I care how products are traded?  

We believe that the dollars we all spend is the world’s most powerful force of change. Not only are fair trade products good for the folks buying them, they do good things for the hardworking people that make them and also don’t harm the environment. 

Good for People

When we talk about the fair treatment of employees, we’re not only talking about adults. Unfortunately, companies use child labor to create products at a very low cost. In West Africa, children lie about their ages to work long hours to produce chocolate, and help their families who are living in poverty. Not only are children working at such a young age, they’re also working in dangerous spaces. You should be able to treat yo’self to your favorite snacks without the guilt you might be putting someone else’s life at risk.

Good for the Planet

Fair Trade farmers contribute the least to climate change, but are impacted the most. Not sure if you’ve noticed, but the weather is all over the place these days. One day it can be 77 and sunny, and the next day it can be 53 and raining. This makes it hard for farmers to know when they should or shouldn’t plant. At the rate we’re currently going, the production of items like cotton and coffee will end in some areas by 2050. While fair trade won't stop climate change, it can definitely help provide farmers steady income despite unpredictable crops.

And while fair trade products may not help end climate change, it’s safe to say they aren’t contributing to it either. The items made by DoneGood partner brands usually come in sustainable packaging like plastic-free and biodegradable containers, and are made with non-toxic chemicals.    

If you need a few more reasons on fair trade is a pretty big deal, check out these DoneGood blog posts:

Child Labor Myths and Facts

What is Ethical Shopping?

Do Chocolate Companies Really Use Child Labor?

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