When it comes to reading ingredients and labels, the terminology can be confusing. There's organic, non-GMO, cruelty free, vegan, fair trade, and many more. Today I want to talk about what fair trade means, why you should look for fair trade products, and how brands are working to source their ingredients through fair trade means.
What is Conventional Trading?
Conventional trading applies to products like coffee and sugar without a Fair Trade label. In conventional trading, making money is simply more important than looking at the bigger picture.
Instead of investing in communities and education, or caring for the environment, conventional trading focuses on finding cheap labor and materials that reduce costs and increase profits.
This means that the environment isn't cared for throughout the process of growing materials. It also means the people who run the farms aren't paid enough to support their families. (Read More).
What is Fair Trade?
According to the World Fair Trade Organization, fair trade is “... a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers” (Read More).
Fair trade ensures that the makers, especially those in developing countries, are paid fairly so that they have opportunities to improve their lives and their communities.
What are the Fair Trade Standards?
There are a lot of different standards that go into the Fair Trade label. I won't list them all, but some of the core values include transparency, fair pricing, and abiding by environmental laws and regulations. You can learn more about all of the standards here.
Why Should You Look for Fair Trade?
My primary reason for shopping fair trade is because I want to support the makers. I don't think it's fair that the people who spend their days growing coffee beans, just so I can enjoy a cup, should go without access to the resources they need. I also want to support the environment, and unsustainable farming practices are contributing to environmental issues. I want to help work towards a more fair and equitable world and one of the ways I do that is by supporting ethical, sustainable businesses.
It's important to note that not everything is going to be Fair Trade. When things are grown locally, like kale, they won't have a Fair Trade label because they weren't grown internationally. But when you're purchasing coffee, sugar, and even cotton, it's important to look for Fair Trade labels.
What Are Brands Doing to Source Fair Trade?
As you can see, purchasing Fair Trade ingredients is one of the ways we all can contribute to a more sustainable environment.
There are a few ways that brands can work to source fair trade. First, they can find suppliers that specialize in Fair Trade materials, like coffee and sugar. Finding reliable suppliers makes the entire process a lot easier, and it makes it more transparent for consumers.
Brands can also educate their consumers (and their competition) on Fair Trade guidelines and why we should all be looking for more sustainable ways to source ingredients. If consumers know where their products are made and how they're sourced, they're so much more likely to look for ways to support ethically and sustainably sourced products.
You can read about some of my favourite Fair Trade products and brands here.
There are so many small steps we can take to work towards a more sustainable world, and Fair Trade products are one of many. How do you support a more sustainable world?
Disclaimer: This post was originally published on the Meow Meow Tweet blog, where I am an ongoing contributor. It has been edited.