It’s World Fair Trade Day and I’m feeling excited! Not only because I have a great excuse to binge on Fair Trade chocolate all day, but because I have joined forces with the team at Trade Aid NZ to spread the amazing message about Fair Trade and giveaway some goodies! (To enter head to the Make It Ethical Facebook Page).
Fair Trade production is a powerful tool in the world marketplace, the profit of which surpasses monetary gain and reaches into communities and households. It empowers whole families, funding education, ensuring safe working conditions, and offers training and wages that enable families to thrive. Fair Trade certification is so much more then a label! For many people, it’s life changing, breaking historic cycles of poverty and marginalisation.
The values of Fair Trade excite me to my core and in that I have a kindred spirit in Trade Aid. I have a great deal of respect for the work that they do, not to mention the fact that they are really nice people who sell really nice stuff. Cam can testify to this too, as he regularly leans on the front window while I do a once round (he’ll say it’s always more then once) in our local Trade Aid store. It starts out as a harmless trip to the mall for coffee, but ends with me holding a packet of chocolate covered almonds and gesticulating wildly in front of the retail assistant as I share my passion for ethical trade. What gets me every time is the connection of each item to someone on the other side of the world. Often as I make a cup of coffee or snuggle into bed at night I wonder about the people behind each item be it a mug, pillow or pair of socks. My quirky mind sends me off onto wondering tangents - do they have a big family? Are they really tall? Do they like salad? Have they even tried salad?
Ahem! Sorry I wandered off there.
The very notion that the items I choose to fill my home with are themselves full of stories (and there’s a chance that they aren't good stories) leads me to realise that every purchase I make in Fair Trade stores not only pays a producer (crafter) first hand for their hours of expertise and work, it also allows me to be part of their story of success and not of struggle!
So what do Fair Trade companies do that is so astoundingly different?
Proudly displaying their certification with the World Fair Trade Organisation, Trade Aid are certified Fair trade in all they do - every product, every ingredient. To gain WFTO certification is no small feat and one that adheres strictly to ten key principles ensuring the gold standard of manufacturing; no child labour or forced labour, complete transparency and accountability, respect for the environment, good working conditions and payment of a fair price. Over and above these trade ideals are a plethora of revolutionary social commitments; such as those to non discrimination, gender equality and women’s economic empowerment, freedom of association, opportunities for those who are economically disadvantaged as well as training for producers to help them create businesses that thrive*.
And it’s not just all talk! There are so many powerful examples of people affected by this revolutionary system. Nourn’s story is just one testament to the impact of Fair Trade. The young dressmaker sold her garments through a middleman and was consistently failing to earn an income from her craft. Nourn connected with one of Trade Aid’s suppliers - The Cambodian Handicraft Association - and the young business owner was offered the training and guidance that enabled her dress making business to thrive. Both Nourn and her husband are disabled and they were given support and not marginalised. The CHA are just one of Trade Aid’s partners and Nourn’s story just one of many.
There is a lot to celebrate this World Fair Trade Day! And perhaps this Saturday when you've finished that bar of Fair Trade chocolate and decide to head out and about looking for a stellar set of mugs, a bedspread or a new rug choose to explore your local Fair Trade supplier, and pop into see my friends at Trade Aid. If you're wondering what more you can do to become part of the fair trade movement Trade Aid have lots of great advice right here at https://www.tradeaid.org.nz/index.php/page/241/label/Four+things+you+can+do
Special thanks to Trade Aid for the sharing Nourns story and photo with us and for the fabulous giveaway goodies!
*For more information on each of these principles please go to http://www.wfto.com/fair-trade/10-principles-fair-trade