Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What Makes a Product Fair Trade?

In our previous blog post, we defined Fair Trade. Now, we are going to talk about what it takes for a company selling handcrafts to be considered Fair Trade and to earn the approval to use the Fair Trade Federation logo on their products.

An Intensive Screening Process - For a company to become a Fair Trade Federation member, businesses undergo an intensive screening process that evaluates their practice of all nine Fair Trade Principles which takes three months or more. They are evaluated every year based on the internationally accepted principles of the World Fair Trade Organization - the gold standard in fair trade. The Federation must feel confident in the intentions and practices of its members, as a result, the Federation accepts only 50 - 60% of applicants. Approved members must adhere to the highest standards of fair trade and commit to doing business strategically to help alleviate poverty, reduce inequality and create opportunities for people to help themselves.

Fair Trade is a strategy for poverty alleviation and sustainable development. Members create social and economic opportunities through trading partnerships with marginalized producers. Members place the interests of producers, their communities and the environment as the primary concerns of their enterprise.

Just Compensation – Organizations and workers must receive fair pay for the goods that they produce. There are several factors that determine what a “fair” price is, and they include the time and effort the worker or workers have put into producing goods, the amount of skill required, cost of materials, and the cost of living in that area.

Cutting Out the Middlemen – Companies that import goods from workers in developing areas need to minimize the use of middlemen as much as possible. This allows for importers to pay a fair price to producers while offering goods at a fair price to consumers. The fewer middlemen looking to make a profit, the better the odds of being Fair Trade.

Favorable Working Conditions – No forced child labor. No slave labor. All workers must work in safe conditions and earn a sustainable income in accordance with the cost of living in that area.

Development – Fair Trade premiums, funds that are allocated toward community development, must be used to strengthen the area’s educational system, economy, and to fund special projects designed to help the community in the long run. Also, all communication pertaining to such decisions must be clear, straightforward, transparent, and decided democratically.

Environmental Friendliness Fair Trade products must be fair to the environment as well. Hazardous chemicals are prohibited for the sake of workers and their respective countries. The point of Fair Trade is to help communities develop and protecting the environment and ecosystem is a large component of that goal

Principles such as these are honored in order for marginalized workers in developing areas, as well as the areas themselves, to be able to thrive in both the short and long term. There is a lot of work that goes into earning the FTF logo, but those committed to helping their impoverished brothers and sisters are happy to make the effort. Every time you purchase a product with the logo, you too become involved in this positive cycle that helps to build strong and educated communities throughout the world.

Not to mention, you will find yourself with some unique and beautiful handmade items!

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