Are you familiar with Fair Trade?
Warning, this is not a happy, feel good kinda post. But if you stick with me, I know you’ll be glad you did.
Please forgive me while I climb up on my political soapbox and talk about something that breaks my heart and it should break yours too.
Let me start with modern day slavery then I’ll get back around to what that has to do with Fair Trade.
About 10 years ago I had an eye opening discovery that changed me. I learned that there was more slavery in the world today than ever in the history of the world.
It was shocking to me that in modern times so much human trafficking and slavery still exists worldwide. In some countries little children are sold for as little as $3.00 because parents can’t feed them or they have been abandoned and abducted.
And not just in other countries. It happens all day, every day right here in the United States.
Some are brought into this country and I imagine every other country as well, and some are abducted from here for:
- Sex Trafficking. …
- Child Sex Trafficking. …
- Forced Labor. …
- Bonded Labor or Debt Bondage. …
- Domestic Servitude. …
- Forced Child Labor. …
- Unlawful Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers. …
Anyway I told you that to tell you this. Many of the things that we use and consume in our daily lives has been produced by slaves who had no choice in the matter. Adults and children who are forced to work grueling hours under horrible conditions without compensation.
Yes, this really does go on in our modern world. Every. Single. Day.
If you want to help those in this country trapped in slavery here are a couple of non-profits that do a wonderful job. Eden’s Glory is my favorite because it’s actually in my neighborhood. It’s a restoration home for women rescued here in the US from human trafficking.
And Set Free Movement is a community based action organization that helps those here in the US and around the world.
I urge you to get involved in any way you can.
Now, back to Fair Trade where we started…
Not everything about Fair Trade has to do with slavery.
Much has to do with simple compassion. Treating people with respect. Paying them a fair wage, farmers a fair price for their crops, safe working conditions, equal treatment and pay for women, environmental stewardship and transparency of supply chains; meaning were all the above criteria meet, from planting the seeds to ending up on our table or hanging in our closets?
The 3 biggest commodities that we use all the time in our everyday lives that do not adhere to fair trade practices are…
Don’t assume because they were made in the USA that they are automatically fair trade products.
We have to get the materials from somewhere.
Coffee beans are grown in countries like Brazil, Vietnam, Columbia, Ethiopia and Indonesia where slavery is rampant.
Cocoa beans come from other places like Central American countries, Indonesia, Ghana, Dominican Republic, Nigeria just to name a few.
Outside of the US, cotton is grown in China, India, Brazil, Turkey, Pakistan and Uzbekistan
Many of these countries have little concern for human rights. In Uzbekistan, one of the worlds largest growers of cotton, closes the schools for a few months during planting and harvest and grade school age children are required to work in the fields without pay. You can read about that here.
This happens in many other countries as well.
Here is a video that shows you 15 products where children are used as labor.
I’m sharing this with you so you are more aware. Now that you know, you can’t unknow this stuff. What you do with this information is up to you, but I hope you will be more Fair Trade conscious when making purchases.
Here are the main symbols to watch for on Fair Trade certified products.
I know this has been some heavy reading. For that I am sorry, but I felt compelled to share this with you. To make you aware in hopes that you’ll be touched by this and share it with others. And that you will be a more compassionate, responsible consumer now that you know the truth.
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So, where do you start?
First let me tell you that I am thrilled that Aldi’s carries UTZ Certified chocolate and Fair Trade coffee.
Walmart sometimes carries 1 kind of Fair Trade coffee (Sam’s brand I think it is) and 1 Fair Trade chocolate bar (Green & Black dark chocolate). I am seeing several new items in the natural body care section with Fair Trade stamps. It’s a start but as one of the world’s largest retailer, they are woefully lacking.
Thank goodness there is finally a growing movement for Fair Trade products!
Fair Trade Coffee
Fair Trade Chocolate
Fair Trade Clothing
I hope you will share this with as many people as you can to get the word out so they can make compassionate buying decisions too.
Talk to you soon,
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