We are big believers in the importance of fair trade, but many coming to Sseko are learning about this certification for the first time. In an age where people are becoming increasingly conscientious about where they shop, how their products are made and who is making them, fair trade knowledge is a means by which you can start to shape how you shop.
WHAT IS FAIR TRADE?
Fair Trade USA® describes it like this:
“Fair-trade is a global movement made up of a diverse network of producers, companies, consumers, advocates, and organizations putting people and planet first.”
Fair-trade establishes a set of standards producers have to meet in order to earn the certification. These standards that are upheld depend on the industry, but some of the expectations include:
- Sustainability (water is used efficiently, waterways are protected, etc.)
- Fair wages and work environments (child labor protection, no forced labor, etc.)
- Transparency (supply chain visibility, contract compliance)
The standards change depending on the industry, but all are there to ensure that all aspects of a business are operating in a way that supports the workers, the environment, and all participating elements of the business.
WHY SEEK FAIR TRADE PRODUCTS?
Everyone has criteria for how and why they buy. For some, it’s dependent on convenience. For others, it’s the price. But if you’re interested in quality, environmental consciousness, and fairly treated workers, fair trade certifications are one way to identify who to shop with.
Unfortunately, industries like agriculture, apparel, and home goods are ripe for exploitation. And these are all items many of us interact with on a daily basis. We grab our produce without much thought, stop into a big box for an outfit and usually only think about it in terms of price and not in terms of production.
In today’s world though, we have access to information like never before. And with a little digging, some of us might be horrified to find the conditions workers are in to manufacture our favorite pair of shoes or the severe lack of standards with regards to global impact.
So if you’re enthusiastic about helping the world with your wallet, it’s time to start researching your favorite, most-purchased products.
HOW DO I MOVE TO MORE FAIR TRADE PURCHASES?
Perhaps a reason a lot of people don’t buy fair trade is that they believe it isn’t as convenient. The truth is though, there are fair trade products you can buy in the stores you’re already shopping in. Big fan of chocolate? Grab a Divine Chocolate bar instead of the typical Halloween candy you might pick up in the checkout line. Fuel yourself with protein bars? Purchase LÄRABARs. They use fair-trade cocoa and chocolate chips.
But of course, not all items will be in the store around the corner. Or you might get hyper passionate about supporting a particular economy or industry.
When this is the case, make fair trade purchases as easy on yourself as possible. For example, our fair trade Together Coffee has a subscription service that allows you to keep coffee in your house without impulse purchasing out of convenience.
Keep your favorite fair trade brands growing by planning your purchases ahead of time and spreading the word. Whether you’re purchasing a gift or in the market for some sneakers, start your search with fair trade. Just about every product you want has a fair trade offering. So start simply by looking. And when you purchase and love an item, buy it as a gift for someone else and share about it with your friends, family, and audiences. The more awareness and demand created for fair trade items the greater the global impact.
As a fair-trade company operating in apparel and coffee, we are intimately aware of the value of purposeful purchases. Not only are you the consumer getting a more cared for, quality product. Often you’re even getting a safer product. But the people all over the globe who benefit from fair wages, safe working conditions, and cared for environments make the purchases an act of love. So to all our customers who have supported Sseko and the network of people we care so deeply for, thank you! You’re changing the world.