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Fair Trade – The Compassionate Alternative

The Fair-Trade guru, Mark Cardwell of The Global Fair Trade Shopping Channel points out:

  • Almost half the world – over 3 billion people live on less than $2.50 a day.
  • At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10.00 a day.
  • The poorest have less access to health, education, and other services.
  • Problems of hunger, malnutrition, and disease also afflict the poorest in society.
world poverty

world poverty

Fair Trade is a global effort to combat economic injustice by creating a network of international commerce, building direct trade relationships between buyers in developed countries and producers in developing countries.

1960′s activism

Although the movement has its origins in the 40′s and 50′s with the Mennonite Church and their Non-Government Organization (NGO) Ten Thousand Villages, it didn’t get serious traction until 1965 when the first “Alternative Trading Association” was started.  That year the British NGO Oxfam began selling imported handicrafts in their charity stores and mail-order catalogs under their “Helping-by-Selling” program.

In 1968, Fair Trade began to take off when the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development adopted the slogan “Trade not Aid” and began to build fair-trade relationships with developing countries.  That same year saw the first publication of the Whole Earth Catalog, which resulted in uniting thousands of specialty merchants and global independent producers who wanted to bypass large-scale corporate retailers, such as discount stores and department stores.  The movement was fueled by radical student groups that targeted multinational corporations whose traditional corporate business models they believed to be fundamentally flawed.

the first WholeEarthCatalog, 1968

the first WholeEarthCatalog, 1968

Fair Trade’s impact today

Fair trade guarantees a fair price that covers the cost of production and a living wage, including both living expenses and health care.  The international Fair Trade Labeling Organization establishes a base price for products and Fair Trade USA  screens and certifies Importers and retailers.

Fair Trade artisans in Bali

Fair Trade artisans in Bali

Pricing also takes into account equal pay for equal work by both women and men.  Fair Trade not only does not discriminate in hiring and remuneration based upon gender, but also ensures equal access to training, promotion, and non discrimination in termination and retirement – this includes race, caste, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, union membership, political affiliation, HIV/Aids status, and age.  Women’s work is properly valued and rewarded and they are empowered in their organizations.

Children are protected under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as local laws and social norms.  If children participate in any way in the production process, the local organization must disclose the extent of their involvement and ensure that they are not being adversely affected in terms of their well being, security, educational requirements, and need for play.

Fair Trade actively encourages environmental responsibility through better environmental practices and the application of responsible methods of production.  The principles of reduce, reuse, and recycle are encouraged.  Rigorous environmental standards induce farmers to better protect their delicate ecosystems and reduce the use of harmful chemicals.

Community development is supported by the “social premium,” a set amount of money that is invested in community development projects.  Projects funded through Fair Trade are democratically chosen by the cooperative and include building healthcare clinics and schools, starting scholarship funds, housing construction, leadership training, and women’s empowerment programs.

Compassionate Essentials supports Fair Trade

Our eco-and-Fair-Trade jewelry collection is hand made by artisans in Bali.  The products adhere to all of the Fair Trade principles discussed above.

Compassionate Essentials' jewelry collection

Compassionate Essentials’ jewelry collection

We believe that all living things on our planet are interconnected, that we are completely dependent upon one another, not only for survival, but to live a happy and healthy life.  Our business is about connectedness.  Our products are produced using the highest possible social and environmental standards, which are drawn from Buddhist Ethical Practices outlined by Tich Nhat Hanh.  Cause and effect can never be ignored; compassion among all is essential.

Visit our web site to learn more.

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