Friday, September 08, 2006

"It's a fair trade product!"

"Oh really?" I ask, "Are you a member of the Fair Trade Federation?" People of the world, be on the lookout! I'm sure you've all heard of fair trade coffee or fair trade chocolate. And some retailers claiming they are selling fair trade products. Well, they may follow fair trade principals, but until they are members of the FTF, they really aren't fair trade in my mind.

According to the FTF, fair trade means. "
Producers receive a fair wage when they are paid fairly for their products. This means that workers are paid at least that country's minimum wage. Since the minimum wage is often not enough for basic survival, whenever feasible, workers are paid a living wage, which enables them to cover basic needs, including food, shelter, education and health care for their families. Paying fair wages does not necessarily mean that products cost the consumer more. Since fair trade organizations bypass exploitative middlepeople and work directly with producers, they are able to cut costs and return a greater percentage of the retail price to the producers."

And what are the membership criteria?
  • Paying a fair wage in the local context.
  • Offering employees opportunities for advancement.
  • Providing equal employment opportunities for all people, particularly the most disadvantaged.
  • Engaging in environmentally sustainable practices.
  • Being open to public accountability.
  • Building long-term trade relationships.
  • Providing healthy and safe working conditions within the local context.
  • Providing financial and technical assistance to producers whenever possible.
Yarbi Design is not yet a member, I must admit. On our way to filling out an extensive application with questions such as "What is the role of craft production (or farming if agricultural products) in the communities’ activities? Is it a primary source of income?" and "Do you commit to not carrying any products from a source that you discover does not meet fair trade standards?" At shows and with clients, I'm honest and say we're applying. I don't just say that we have fair trade products.

So be sure to look for the logo!

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