This is the last piece of 2012 in a series on “The Future of Fair Trade,” written in collaboration with Fair Trade USA. A 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization, Fair Trade USA is the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States. To follow along with the rest of the series, click here.
The holidays are upon us and there’s only one more weekend of shopping left, not to mention the flurry of last minute parties and gatherings to attend. Many of us still need to stock up for our dinners and potlucks–and let’s not forget about New Year’s Eve. So much celebrating; so little time.
Though somewhat daunting, that incomplete shopping list of yours actually provides a huge opportunity to send a bold message about the kind of world you want to live in (no pressure). With 70 percent of the American economy based on consumer spending, holiday shoppers have the leverage to use that spending power for social good. Depending on the products you choose, your purchases in the next several days could help improve lives and protect fragile ecosystems across the globe. From chocolate and coffee to body care products and linens, giving a Fair Trade Certified gift is one of the easiest ways to do something good for others this holiday season.
“If we can turn the act of consumption into an act of grace and goodwill, then we’re really onto something.” – Paul Rice, CEO, Fair Trade USA.
Consider buying gifts that have the power to make a difference all year round. Choosing Fair Trade products is a great way to vote for a world where farming families can access things like health care, education and clean water. A world where people–the vast majority of whom have toiled for years and can barely make ends meet –are able to cut out the middlemen and get a better price for their hard work.
For those of us whose like to focus on eco-friendly gifts, Fair Trade goods are a great way to check that “sustainability” box. Prior to Fair Trade certification, farmers often felt pressured to utilize farming practices that harmed local ecosystems, including the excessive use of chemicals, disposal of agricultural waste into local streams, and clear cutting of forests. Now these farmers practice more responsible farming techniques such as rotating crops, sourcing water more sustainably, and ending the practice of aerial chemical sprays. Over half of all Fair Trade farmers also boast organic certification, and more than 30 percent of producer organizations invest some of their Fair Trade premiums in programs designed to protect their delicate ecosystems.
Individual actions—like buying a cup of coffee or a scarf for a loved one– may seem small at first, but in reality we have far more power than we think. If we all choose Fair Trade this holiday season we can make a significant impact on things like worker’s rights, women’s empowerment and environmental sustainability. Whether you put together a gift basket of Fair Trade Certified chocolate and coffee, or bring a couple bottles of Fair Trade Certified wine to that holiday gathering, you’re supporting the fundamental idea that people should be paid fairly for their hard work. Last, but not least, your purchase grants the gift of dignity to people who never wanted a handout, but instead, a hand up out of poverty. To learn more about the variety of Fair Trade gifts that give back, please visit Fair Trade USA’s holiday gift guide, and do what you can to make every purchase matter.