Fair Trade by Diane Powers

Last week in the San Diego Union Tribune, there was a small article on Fair Trade. Diane Powers, a San Diegan, who is the founder and owner of the Bazaar del Mundo Shops in Old Town, writes a few good notes about the importance of Fair Trade. 

“That gorgeous, hand-embroidered Peruvian floral pillow may be the perfect one to enhance your living room. Those Namibian hand-woven baskets of palm shoots and grass – or even better; the baskets from Senegal of recycled prayer mats – well, they’re irresistible.

While you’re mulling over the color and design of these imported items, chances are, the last thing that comes to mind is the situation of the indigenous artisans and craftspeople in small community co-ops who created these treasures. but they may be people whose fabulous work doesn’t earn them enough to feed their children.

So, while you’re deciding, take a few seconds to read the labels and discover whether these “finds” are also Fair Trade (FT) items.

If they are, you’re not merely decorating; you’re about to join the thousands of today’s consumers who are inspired to add “socially responsible” to their shopping experience.

…[What does is mean to buy Fair Trade?] Buying fair trade items means that the artist or craftsman earns a fair income, and that paying FT’s extra cents can be a more sustainable means of reducing global poverty than, for instance, donating to a charity – which we Americans generously do.

Consider: 76 percent of fair trade production is done by women; 69 percent of artisans and farmers involved in fair trade are ethnic minorities; Central America and South Asia remain the predominant source for FT.

Fair Trade originated in the days following World War II, when the practice was seen as a form of charity advocated by religious organizations.

Today, Fair Trade has soared globally. The increase has been particularly spectacular in the past decade. In 2007, for instance, FT sales amounted to approximately $3.62 billion worldwide, a 47 percent year-to-year increase. Fifty-eight developing countries have embraced it.

Yet, Fair Trade is not exclusively about more equitable pay; the practice and extra cents support other important missions. Fair Trade supports job training, community education, sustainability and community infrastructure for vital needs such as schools, water projects and health clinics.

An example would be last year;s floods in Pakistan. Because of the higher wages, homes of FT producers were able to build stronger structures and therefore survived the floods better than their neighbors.

…I hope you will read the labels, because choosing an item that is certified as Fair Trade means you’ve embraced and chosen a new cultural awareness. You’ve chosen a concern for improving the quality of life for communities near and fair. And surely, you’ve opted to make fairness a priority.”

Powers, Diane. “‘Fair Trade’ Makes Fairly Big Difference.” Union Tribune. [San Diego] 23 August 2012.

To view article, click here.

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