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What Does Fair Trade Mean, and Why Should We Buy Fair Trade Products?

What Does Fair Trade MeanFair Trade verification means creating safer more transparent trading options around the world. Fair Trade purchases support small producers and workers while creating social and economic opportunities for marginalized producers. Fair Trade also encourages an environmental and labor conscious global society. 

This is all well and good, but what does Fair Trade mean exactly? It's important to understand what and why Fair Trade exists. This will help you to continue to make ethical decisions about your purchases.

What Does Fair Trade Mean?

Fair Trade includes a verification process that encourages safe and environmental conscious trading and supply chains and supports labor equality in a global trading market.

Fair Trade policies seek to protect farmers, workers, and our planet. These policies also protect producers in developing countries to create new opportunities not otherwise available.

When you choose Fair Trade verified companies for the products you purchase, you can know those products are helping people! These products are created with worker and environmentally friendly practices. You'll also know the producers received fair prices for their production efforts. 

Every Fair Trade verify businesses follows the Fair Trade Principles: 

  1. Create opportunities for economically disadvantaged producers
  2. Develop transparent and accountable relationships
  3. Build capacity
  4. Promote Fair Trade
  5. Pay promptly and fairly
  6. Support safe and empowering working conditions
  7. Ensure the rights of children
  8. Cultivate environmental stewardship
  9. Respect cultural identity

How Companies Receive the Fair Trade Certification

There a multiple Fair Trade certification organizations and each requires companies follow rigorous standards and rules to obtain approval. A Fair Trade certification requires companies to pass routine, thorough evaluations by third-party auditors that track transactions along the supply chain. 

1. Factory Certification

To receive a factory certification, the company has to agree to an inspection of their factories. This inspection is to ensure international labor standards are in place. The inspection requires safe and empowering working conditions that ensure the rights of children, women, and minorities. 

2. Material Certification

A material certification looks at the materials used. Inspections ensure all materials used in the process meet safety and environmental standards. The inspection also ensures that all materials are purchased based on Fair Trade pricing standards so the entire supply chain is ethical.

3. Factory and Material Certification

A company may also seek certification for both standards. If they're following basic factory and material standards, they'll receive certification for both. This ensures that all materials and work procedures meet standards of equity.

Fair Trade Defining Standards

Fair Trade organizations look for specific standards when issuing Fair Trade verification. Each type of producer (food, material, product, etc.)  has specific standards for their production process. These standards also exist for every employee to guarantee fair practices for each and every worker.

Fair Trade policies also seek to create a competitive edge for smaller businesses. Without Fair Trade marginalized smaller producers have often resorted into saving costs in unethical ways because of the inability to compete, through Fair Trade practices providing education, training, resources, and new options an opportunities for small companies and independent farms they can now compete in a global marketplace. This allows them to maintain fair employee and sustainable environmental practices.

Fair Wages

To compete with larger companies and the global demand for cheaper products, businesses in these developing areas have often had to undercut prices. This resulted in their employees receive unlivable wages, wages not being paid in a timely manner, and sometimes not being paid at all. Fair Trade policies seek to create fair and just wage opportunities for all employees.

Companies have to show policies for fair wages to all employees. These wage policies are based on international labor laws. These policies help create greater revenue for these developing areas which in turn uplifts people, families, and whole communities.

Fair Practices Regarding Working Hours

Fair Trade certification also requires policies that ensure workers are treated fairly when it comes to hours worked. This means workers are not overworked and are paid for any overtime hours.

This requirement also ensures workers receive equitable vacation and sick leave. Inspectors also look for policies regarding break times. They seek to ensure international standards are met. 

Workplace Safety

Fair Trade policies also look for basic safety standards within the company's policies. This includes working hours but also includes educating workers on safety procedures. 

Inspectors ensure that procedures are clearly defined, made available, and workers are properly trained. They also make sure all working environments include necessary safety equipment and are in structurally safe locations.

Worker Grievance Policies

Another important aspect of a Fair Trade certified work environment is to make sure employees have the means to discuss concerns. Inspections look for HR personnel and policies that allow workers to bring issues up without fear of retaliation, punishment, or being fired. 

Harassment Policies

A safe work environment also requires freedom from any form of harassment. Freedom from unfair treatment of certain employees and freedom from sexual harassment is included. Inspectors seek to ensure that companies are free from any form of employee abuse by management or co-workers.

What are Fair Trade Products?

Fair Trade products are items produced in factories using these standards. They also require many other work environments and sustainability policies. Fair Trade products require environmentally friendly practices to protect the planet, resources, and jobs for generations to come. 

This includes that companies must use procedures to cut down on GMO and hazardous materials in their production process. Companies must offer products that don't risk people's health in the production process or in the end product.

Benefits of Fair Trade

There are many ways your Fair Trade purchase benefits you as well as the producers. When you purchase Fair Trade products, you're contributing to higher global standards for people and the planet. With every purchase, you help create a world where producers can treat our globally family ethically while offering sustainable products. 

Fair Trade certification requires a minimum price for products. This means you're helping to ensure companies are able to compete equitably. This also means you're ensuring workers in developing areas receive fair wages and can improve their and their loved one's lives.

Your Fair Trade purchase also helps cut down on unhealthy, unsafe, and below standard work conditions. You're helping make the global market a better place for all of the amazing workers behind your products and your food.

You're also ensuring you receive safe products. Fair Trade certification involves a finished product that often meets organic and non-GMO policies. This means you don't have to worry about contamination of harmful chemicals in your products.

Fair Trade purchases also help develop areas that are lacking resources. You're using your money to help areas develop the infrastructure and production means to compete globally. Each purchase helps make the world a better place for everyone involved! 

You're also helping to establish, maintain and grow fair global standards. People buying Fair Trade products support ethical companies to grow and motivate other unethical companies to change to Fair Trade. Seeing the increasing trend in Fair Trade will make them seek these standards in their processes and a Fair Trade market for everyone. Your purchases have the power to change the world! 

Finding Fair Trade Products

So, what does Fair Trade mean? Fair Trade means a global market that looks out for both the worker, the planet, and the consumer. If you want to take part in the Fair Trade market, make sure you're looking for Fair Trade verified ethical businesses for your purchases.

There are many options available for people that want to make Fair Trade purchases. If you'd like to get started purchasing products that make the world a better place, check out some of the fun new Fair Trade products we have available.