Along with veganism, buying fair trade is one of the latest moral trends starting to make way into the social political conversation! In many cases of general consumer goods, an surprising amount of injustice is done towards workers; including being forced to do labor in hazardous conditions and/or sweatshops, relentless hours of work for little to almost no pay, and workers being forbidden from having any say in their work environment. Beyond being a new hipster fad, Fair Trade approval establishes that workers get a livable pay to support themselves and their family, that working conditions are safe and democratic, and that workers will be able to do their labor without fear of the building collapsing or being overworked; all traits that should be required for any work environment. Fair Trade companies also have a goal of keeping their practices sustainable, both environmentally and economically! They minimize their environmental footprint by abstaining from harmful agrochemicals for workers and the earth, and work to help artisans and farmers invest in their housing, schools and health care. To make sure no nooks or crannies of any business are overlooked, an intricate system of checks and balances are put in place within each community to guarantee fair living wages and worker guidelines.
From food to makeup to furniture, nearly every consumer good can be made Fair Trade. The public has recently taken an interest in assuring that specific items are made justly, such as coffee, chocolate and clothing. The reasonable pay will also tend to contribute to a higher priced product than consumers are normally used to, but don’t fear! If buying Fair Trade is out of your budget, there are other ways to still be active about this ongoing issue! The world has a huge amount of waste, and as the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure! Check out your local thrift store, garage sales or even Craigslist and your trendy finds may surprise you. Furniture and clothing can be found for jaw-dropping bargains, and you will know your purchase didn’t contribute to keeping sweatshops in business! In the case of food, buying from Farmer’s Markets is always a safe alternative to grocery store shopping, and sometimes can also be much cheaper, not to mention the added benefit of helping a local business! Another way to stick up for this issue is just by talking about it! Any social movement would be at a stand-still without people willing to engage with others about the issues. Spreading awareness about why goods need to be Fair Trade and showing producers that there is a demand for ethically-sourced products has already started a decline in sales of unethical companies. I had never been extremely concerned about this movement until I saw The True Cost on Netflix, a documentary that reveals why this topic is so overlooked and what all consumers are overlooking. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in learning more!
Signing off for the Sentient,