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Fair Trade – From Olive Oil to Elephant-Dung Paper

In our previous article exploring the benefits of Fair Trade,  “Fair Trade – The Compassionate Alternative,”  we reviewed the history and impact of the Fair Trade movement.  In spite of the existence of Fair Trade since the 1960′s and even earlier, there are some misunderstandings about what Fair Trade stands for today and the products that are offered

Fair Trade is not all about coffee

If you enter the words “Fair Trade” in a search engine on the Internet, you are likely to uncover a variety of web sites that feature coffee as their main product.  In fact Fair-Trade-certified coffee imports to the United States and Canada rose to a record high of 163 million pounds in 2012, an 18% increase over 2011, according to Oakland, California-based Fair Trade USA.

FairTrade Products

However, Fair Trade actually includes a vast assortment of agricultural goods and handcrafts, including baskets, clothing, cotton, home decor, furniture, jewelry, sports balls, toys, wine, rice, olive oil, chocolate, sugar, tea, and many other items.  It is true that coffee was the first agricultural product to be certified fair trade in 1988, but handicrafts have been offered via fair-trade organizations since 1946.  In the United States, consumers can choose from 7,000 products sourced from 58 countries.

Recycled paper and exotic gifts


There is such variety that Fair Trade has even moved into the area of exotic gifts and recyclable paper made partially from elephant dung.  The mission of Mr. Ellie Pooh, LLC is to reduce elephant slaughter in Sri Lanka, where humans are encroaching on elephant habitats, and cutting down trees.  When elephants come looking for food, local residents shoot and kill them because the elephants are seen as a threat to valued agricultural crops.

The owner and founder, Dr. Karl Wald, believes that his newly created industry will directly contribute to the local economy.  He hopes to get farmers to respect elephants and consider the animals an asset instead of as a threat.

Fair Trade products are not necessarily more expensive

One of the major goals of Fair Trade is to work directly with producers and eliminate the traditional “middlemen” in the distribution chain.  A greater percentage of the retail price, therefore, is returned to the producers.  Consumers end up reaping the benefits.  Most Fair-Trade merchandise carries prices that compare very favorably to their retail counterparts.

Fair Trade products emphasize quality production

SFAwards10SProducers in Fair Trade countries maintain a constant dialogue with their buyers too insure high- quality products and establish long-term relationships.  Part of the uniqueness of Fair Trade merchandise is that it includes some variation from article to article, eliminating an “assembly-line” appearance often found in conventional products of the same category.  Fair Trade associations have often won awards from organizations such as the Cup of Excellence competition, the New York Home Textile Show, the San Francisco Chocolate Salon Award,   and several others.

Compassionate Essentials’ Fair Trade jewelry

Our entire jewelry selection is handmade from recycled glass and/or brass by native artisans in Bali.


View our jewelry collection by clicking here.  

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