A lot of us these days are trying to “align our purchases with our values.” We seek out locally produced food, artisan-made goods and products that are eco-conscious in one way or another. But, despite our good intentions, it’s just not possible to keep all our purchases green and local. Sometimes we need to buy coffee or bananas. Or we find the perfect gift for a friend but discover it came from half-way around the globe.
With so many imported goods produced in ways that are harmful to workers, their communities and the environment, it may seem like buying anything from overseas betrays our core beliefs. Fortunately, we can still be “conscious consumers” when buying imports: The key is looking for the label: “certified fair trade.”
Getting to know fair trade
Fair trade is about improving the lives of farmers, artisans and other workers in developing nations while protecting their local environment and supporting sustainable community development. Fair trade was set in motion some 60 years ago by Edna Ruth Byler, the founder of Ten Thousand Villages.1 Today, there are numerous non-profits and businesses committed to fair trade values. And consumers can find the fair trade label on products ranging from produce, wine and flowers to handcrafts, accessories and clothing. Read more