As Dean mentioned in his comment on my last post, people who work as coffee growers/laborers and diamond miners are two of the most oppressed trade groups in the modern world. Instead of complaining about what our government can do about fair trade, I thought I'd give a few tips and insight on the little things we can do.
# 1 Many coffee brands are starting to use fair trade coffee beans (if you're not sure what that means- see notes on fair trade at the bottom). Look for this seal at the right.
#2 For all you starbucks drinkers, they do sell fair trade coffee, BUT you have to ask for it up front. Presently, fair trade coffee only makes up 10% of the coffee they sell.
#3 Clothing made overseas. Many (actually most)clothing companies have their clothes made overseas in garment factories. Make sure the company you buy from inspects and reports data on their factories. Gap brands (Old Navy, Gap, and Banana Republic) were once in the news for child labor in some of the Asian Indian factories. They now inspect and report on all garment factories. Here is their social responsibility statement A little research is all it takes to make sure you are buying responsibly.
#4 Buy clothing from fair trade companies. Fair trade clothing has much higher restrictions- see article here Fair Indigo is one such company. Check out this site for other great fair trade companies
#5 Don't be afraid to ask! Ask the companies you buy from if they sell fair trade, if they pay fair wages to their workers, and if they have a social responsibility statement.
Fair trade=Fair Trade pretty much means exactly what it says. It is all about making sure that products exported internationally from “developing” countries to “developed” countries are produced under fair conditions. That means promoting the payment of fair prices, safe and healthy working conditions and responsible environmental practices.
Why this is important. For example, in the coffee industry, farmers who do not sell their crops to fair trade buyers often are forced to sell their coffee for less than $0.01 a lb and can have an annual wage of less than $300 for their entire family. Often times, this amount of money is less than the cost of operating their farm and their are plunged into a spiral of debt.