(NaturalNews) You've likely seen the words "Fair Trade" on various consumer goods from time to time, particularly at health food stores or other environmentally friendly shops. The term may seem self explanatory, but what do those words actually imply? Are you really helping workers earn a better wage? Are you doing something good for the environment? What other benefits come with a fair trade purchase?
The Fair Trade Federation defines fair trade as "an approach to business and to development based on dialogue, transparency, and respect that seeks to create greater equity in the international trading system. Fair trade supports farmers and craftspeople in developing countries who are socially and economically marginalized."
Specifically, the fair trade movement concentrates on exports from developing countries into developed countries. There are many benefits to buying fair trade products. Here are seven of the most notable:
1. Battle poverty in developing countries by promoting higher wages for workers - The wages of many workers in developing countries are far too low to support a decent standard of living. By purchasing fair trade items, you support a wage that is fair within a local context, which allows for not only improved standards of living but stronger local economies as well. Furthermore, since fair trade organizations work primarily with small businesses that agree to reinvest a portion of their profits into community projects like healthcare clinics and childcare programs, you are supporting community development.
2. Create markets for local artisans - Many producers in developing countries lack the resources to find markets and customers for their goods. Fair trade organizations provide these opportunities that allow workers to continue making a living and providing for their families.
3. Support safer working environments - By helping ensure safe working environments, fair trade protects workers from suffering poor, inhumane and dangerous working conditions.
4. Protect children - Children around the world are subjected to long work hours for little pay; what can be described as slave labor. The laws that exist to protect children are often violated by big companies. Fair trade companies strictly adhere to child labor laws, making sure children are not abused.
5. Send a message to large corporations and governments - Vote against greedy corporations with your dollar. Let them know that the exploitation of workers in underdeveloped countries along with the socioeconomic inequality and environmental destruction it brings is not okay. As the paradigm shifts, governments will be forced to support this type of trade rather than law breaking corporations.
6. Support the organic movement and protect the environment - Fair trade companies are encouraged to use organic practices, which protects human health and the environment.
7. The number of fair trade goods is growing - More people are beginning to open their eyes to the issues of economic and environmental responsibly around the world. With this new awareness, the number and availability of fair trade goods continues to grow and spread. Consumers now have many more options to buy fair trade goods than they did just a few short years ago.
Buying fair trade
Most companies that sell fair trade goods are members of fair trade groups such as FTF (Fair Trade Federation) or the International Federation of Alternative Trade. FTF members are required to submit financial and business-practice reports which are then evaluated by a screening commission before being approved. Official FTF goods are often marked with the trade group's logo. Resources for finding fair trade products include The Fair Trade Federation and Support Fair Trade.
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