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December 18, 2007

Who is the fairest of them all?

Are you sick of our holiday shopping guides yet? We're almost done, but this one is pretty important too.
Fair trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, which seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers - especially in the South. Fair trade organizations (backed by consumers) are engaged actively in supporting producers, awareness raising and in campaigning for changes in the rules and practice of conventional international trade.
Many people feel that fair trade programs is a long term solution (compared to short term charitable aid) because it gives these communities a way to support themselves. We agree that it's important for companies to see beyond the bottom line and take into account what impact their business actions can have on the rest of the world and the environment.

So here is a short list of some companies and organizations that are doing the right thing when it comes to fair trade. Of course, there are so many other worthy groups out there, so if this issue is important to you please do your own research as well.

  • Adina gets its name from the Senegalese word for "life". Their organic beverage company uses cultural recipes from around the world (including the traditional Bissap juice of native Senegal) and works with community-based cooperatives and collectives.
  • Aid to Artisans is a non-profit organization, that offers practical assistance to artisan groups worldwide, working in partnerships to foster artistic traditions, cultural vitality, improved livelihoods and community well-being. Through collaboration in product development, business skills training and development of new markets, they provide sustainable economic and social benefits for craftspeople in an environmentally sensitive and culturally respectful manner.
  • Co-op America is a non-profit membership organization whose mission is to harness economic power - the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace - to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society.
  • Cred Jewellery is an ethical jewelry company that makes sure that the mining of the metal and gems used in their beautiful jewelry respects strict social and environmental principles (such as restoring and reforesting mined land, avoiding the use of toxic chemicals, improving the standards of working conditions in the mining industry, adhering to the Kimberly process, etc.)
  • Dagoba Chocolate uses fair trade-certified cacao in their chocolate but also pays producers wagers higher than the fair-trade standard.
  • Divine not only pays a fair price to the cocoa farmers cooperative Kuapa Kokoo of Ghana, but also gives them a share in the company's profit.
  • Fair Indigo is a clothing company that creates stylish, high-quality clothes for men and women while paying a fair and meaningful wage to the people who produce them (which includes "the best, most ethical factories around the globe").
  • Equal Exchange offers organic, gourmet coffee, tea, sugar, cocoa, and chocolate bars produced by democratically run farmer co-ops in Latin America, Africa and Asia.
  • The Fair Trade Federation (FTF) is an association of businesses and organizations who are fully committed to fair trade. FTF strengthens the capacity of its members, encourages the exchange of best practices, and raises awareness about the importance of choosing fairly traded products and supporting businesses committed to fair trade principles.
  • Ganesha is a fair trade partnership (with a shop in London) that imports quality home furnishings and accessories from India, sourced from/developed with co-operatives and producer associations.
  • Global Exchange is an international human rights organization dedicated to promoting environmental, political and social justice. Their online fair trade store gives you the option of shopping by individual country; they also offer "Reality Tours" so you can learn about global issues firsthand.
  • Novica has more than 2,000 handcrafted works of art for sale in order to give artists and artisans around the world a global platform to express their true artistic talents and to spur their creativity.
  • Numi pays their Chinese tea garden farmers a significantly higher salary than the national average and also gives them free land and housing.
  • Ok√© gives its banana farmers 30 percent ownership of the company and has changed the social landscape in Costa Rica and Ecuador (where banana farmers previously were known to have the worst working conditions).
  • Organic India's farmers of use traditional ayurvedic practices in growing their herbs and teas and alternate between growing crops for the company and themselves every other season.
  • Oxfam America has teamed up with Co-op America to call on consumers to adopt their local supermarket. By building up local community pressure, they hope to get supermarkets to stock, market, and display more Fair Trade products. Go to CheckOutFairTrade.com for more information on how you can get involved.
  • Pangea Market gets its name from the Greek pangea for "all lands". They bring together traditional high quality handicrafts made by artisans in developing countries to help create sustainable livelihoods for artists in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
  • Pura Vida Coffee is one of the largest sellers of fair trade, organic coffee in the U.S.
  • ResponsibleTravel.com is a directory of carefully screened trips run by hundreds of specialist operators and accommodations. They provide more authentic holidays that allow you to truly experience a destination and its culture, all of which have been screen to ensure that the local people benefit as much as possible and any negative environmental impacts on the destination are minimized.
  • Taraluna believes you can "change the world one purchase at a time" by shopping wisely, buying fair trade, sweatshop free, American made, organic and natural. They are a small, woman-owned/family-run business that offers unique products.
  • Ten Thousand Villages works with over 100 artisan groups in more than 30 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America to bring you fair trade jewelry, home decor, gifts and more. It is one of the oldest and largest fair trade organizations.
  • Trans Fair USA is a nonprofit organization that audits transactions between US companies offering Fair Trade Certified™ products and the international suppliers from whom they source, in order to guarantee that the farmers and farm workers behind Fair Trade Certified goods were paid a fair, above-market price.
  • Two Hands Worldshop offers beautiful Fair Trade certified arts and handcrafts from the world's artisans, so that disadvantaged artisans and producers can have fair wages, safe working conditions, and long-term, stable business partnerships.
  • World of Good was formed to "create a bridge" between individuals in the US looking for beautiful and interesting handcrafted products and small artisan organizations around the world who could really benefit from the opportunity to share their handcrafts with the world.

1 comment:

sabi said...

hey! love your blog. i just received an absolutely beautiful, ethically-sourced and environmentally-friendly pendant from Brilliant Earth (www.brilliantearth.com) as a birthday present, and thought it might be worth including them in your list of fair trade gift options.