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The Hell's That: Fair Trade

Haley Martin

Fair Trade, a term easily confused because of alternative spellings like "faire trade," "Fairtrade" and "fairtrade"––yep, seriously there are four––actually refers to one thing. In other words: these spellings aren't necessarily interchangeable! No wonder Fair Trade can still provoke anxiety or confusion in even the most experienced sustainability professionals and consumers alike.  

The public's awareness of Fair Trade's primary definition is continually evolving as more brands (including ours) enter or promote the ethical products space. So, if you're new to Fair Trade, or just confused about how it works and what it means in practice, fret not––we've got your back.  

Fair Trade 

/fer/trād/ 

Noun 

  1. Aset of settled and authoritative trade practices based on ethical principles shared by a few global Fair Trade organizations, and promoted by the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) and its members. 
  2. A global, market-based movement, made up of networks of producers, companies, shoppers, advocates, and organizations in pursuit of better conditions for people and the planet. 

As a set of practices, you could say it's a consumer-based approach: certifying products that we all buy is an easy way for consumers to educate themselves about ethical standards in products' supply chains, and about their producers' working conditions. And, to leverage their daily buying choices to help economically marginalized communities lift themselves out of poverty by selling handmade items.

Fair Trade certification from one of the few large certifying organizations, is, luckily, a difficult designation for a company to earn––this way, consumers know that products from sustainable fashion brands are made "according to rigorous social, environmental, and economic standards." So, "Fair Trade" as we talk about it here at Faire, is a very specific thing––at least as defined by the WFTO and their many, many, member organizations around the world.   

The essential standards developed by the WFTO and Fairtrade International (FLO) include the following highlights––know them, love them, support them:  

  • Safe Working Conditions (regarding health, safety, and child labor) 
  • Environmental Sustainability 
  • Monitoring and Evaluation 
  • Living Wages 
  • Community Empowerment (option to form unions and associations) 

 


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