Tuesday, October 7, 2014

What is Fair Trade?

Fair Trade plays by different rules than traditional commerce. Instead of exchanging goods based on driving hard bargains, Fair Trade is based on economic and social justice.

Those who shop for Fair Trade products do so in order to make sure that artisans who made the products are not being taken advantage of. It is a noble idea and Fair Trade products do in fact go a long way in helping artisans in developing countries. Sadly, many of the people who, with good intentions, shop for such products, are the ones being taken advantage of, as the term "fair trade" is one that is often loosely used by vendors, whether or not they are approved members of the Fair Trade Federation. The purpose of this blog post is to help you understand exactly what Fair Trade is and how to know if the product you are considering indeed qualifies - so that your purchase can make the positive impact that you intended.

Fair Trade products are made by marginalized workers in developing countries and the goal of companies that offer such handcrafted products is to provide these workers with long-term economic opportunities that they otherwise lack. Beyond supporting the individual artisans, the ultimate goal according to Fair Trade USA, is to help those "in developing countries build sustainable businesses that positively influence their communities." The Fair Trade Federation describes 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."

So, how does this help you the next time you want to purchase a Fair Trade product? Despite some companies inappropriately using the term "fair trade", there is a very clear cut way for you to know when you are purchasing a legitimate Fair Trade handcraft, and that is to look for the Fair Trade Federation logo with the company name, such as:

Fair Trade companies in good standing with the Fair Trade Federation are the only organizations allowed to put this logo on their handicraft packaging. If you do not see it, you don't really know if it's a Fair Trade handcraft.

If a package does not have that logo yet, it is simple to check the Fair Trade Federation's website to see if that company is a member. If so, rest assured it is a legitimate fair trade handcraft. Only use this list. Simply doing a Google search for fair trade companies might lead you down the wrong path. Members, that are approved annually, are upholding the 9 core principles and are committed toward the big picture of breaking the cycle of poverty - changing whole communities, generations and futures!

Gifts with a Cause is proud, not only to be a member of the Fair Trade Federation, but also to be one of only a few companies in the country allowed to feature their logo on every product they offer.

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