We all want to be a part of something bigger. We want to feel like our actions are making a difference in our communities. What better way to positively contribute to our society than by purchasing fair trade?
We’ve heard these words: fair trade. It seems like a good thing. But what does it mean? Does fair trade mean that the product is “ethically made”? If I pay a local artisan a fair wage to make something, does that make it “fair trade”?
Fair trade is so much more than paying the makers a fair wage. Fair trade is a strategy to eradicate poverty and develop sustainable income around the world. Fair trade means investing in people and building long-term relationships.
We, at Elevāt, support fair trade for five main reasons:
1. Fair trade creates opportunities
Choosing fair trade creates employment opportunities and helps break the cycle of poverty for families.
Buying fair trade means creating social and economic opportunities for people around the world. It can be difficult to find a job in many developing nations. And even if someone is privileged enough to have a job, it likely does not offer consistent hours or pay above a living wage.
2. Fair trade develops relationships
Fair trade organizations are committed to knowing the people who make the products. Do you ever wonder who made the shirt you’re wearing or the chair you’re sitting on? If you want to know who made your Elevāt accessories, just ask us, we’re happy to tell you her name. We would love to tell you the stories of our partners around the world. In fact, you can even search for products by partner or by country on our website.
Fair trade cultivates relationships that are open, fair, consistent, and respectful. Fair trade doesn’t view people as a means to generate a wider profit margin, but rather an opportunity to create a lasting friendship with someone.
3. Fair trade builds bridges
Fair trade makes the world feel like a smaller place. When we wear accessories that have been handcrafted by artisans in Nepal or Guatemala, suddenly those countries and those women don’t seem so far away. The country and the crafter become more personal because you are reminded of her every time you wear your piece.
When we wear something we love and are connected to, we want to tell others about it. By wearing fair trade accessories, you’ll be able to tell your friends about wonderful products and wonderful women around the world. Everyone grows closer together because of fair trade.
4. Fair trade supports healthy working conditions
One of the beauties of fair trade is that it examines the workplaces closely. Fair trade demands safe and empowering working conditions for all of their employees.
In middle to upper class America, we would be appalled if we were not allowed to take a 30 to 60-minute lunch break, or if we had to work 16 hour days and barely make a few dollars, or if we got injured while working and had to continue working. Every person in every country deserves a safe and fair workplace. The workplace should be free from discrimination and abuse.
Organizations such as Fair Trade Certified closely examine workplaces in developing nations to ensure that ethical practices are in place. They make sure the “earnings (of workers) fulfill basic household needs.”
At Elevāt, we believe it is important to know where your products are made and understand the working conditions of the people who made them. Don’t let your money support harsh and unfair labor environments.
5. Fair trade ensures the rights of children
Fair trade protects children; it enforces child labor laws and makes sure that kids get to be kids. Everyone deserves a childhood and all kids deserve a chance to go to school. Many developing nations struggling to rise above poverty are forced to take their kids out of school and send them to work instead. Going to school means learning and receiving an education, but it also means access to food, clean water, and healthcare.
Why shop fair trade?
Shopping fair trade is the way to go. We may need to pay a little more, but we can know that the money is going to support people around the world and keep them happy, healthy, and safe. We know that we are getting truly quality products that were thoughtfully made. Buying fair trade will make a positive impact on humans around the globe, both here in our community and abroad.
EDITOR’S NOTE: While Elevāt is not yet fair trade certified, we follow fair trade practices and give 100% percent of each sale back to the artisan who made the product. We are also working to become officially fair trade certified.