Wake up daily to our latest coverage of business done better, directly in your inbox.


Get your weekly dose of analysis on rising corporate activism.


The best of solutions journalism in the sustainability space, published monthly.

Select Newsletter

By signing up you agree to our privacy policy. You can opt out anytime.

Fair Trade USA headshot

How You Can Be Part of the Fair Trade Difference

By Fair Trade USA

This piece was sponsored by Fair Trade USA and went through the normal editorial review process. 

Fair Trade USA, a nonprofit organization and leading certifier of Fair Trade products, has released a powerful 5-minute documentary video to kick off its new Fair Trade Difference campaign and pledge drive. The purpose of the video and two-week campaign is to tell the story of Fair Trade in full color, and to inspire commitment to shopping Fair Trade by signing a pledge. As a whole, the Fair Trade Difference is an invitation to peer behind the seal; a guided tour into lives and communities across the world impacted by production and purchase of Fair Trade products; and a call to people to care about a simple way to make an immediate, long-lasting difference in the world.

The lifeblood of the Fair Trade movement is a spirit of curiosity. But when it comes to our most common questions—“Where do my products come from?” or “Why does Fair Trade matter?”—we at Fair Trade Certified can’t answer them alone.

That’s because Fair Trade-- which is part of a global movement-- is not a definition but a dialog. It’s is an ongoing, global narration of countless, deeply personal stories of farmers, workers, and fishermen who live its positive impact every single day. Fair Trade is about giving farmers and workers a voice in their community and around the world, and the Fair Trade Difference is about passing the microphone.

Specifically, the Fair Trade Difference zeroes in on a (if not the) self-defining aspect of the Fair Trade model, the Community Development Funds.

Community Development Funds

Many people understand that the Fair Trade Certified seal represents goods that were made responsibly, fairly, and sustainably, making it easier for people to choose products that align with their values. In addition, for every Fair Trade Certified product sold, the people who made it earn an additional amount of money called the Community Development Fund. From there, the community decides together how to spend the funds to improve their lives and meet their unique social, economic, and environmental needs. The Fair Trade Difference explores how different communities across the world are using those funds for good.

The film itself pulls back the curtain on the Fair Trade model to reveal a rich, nuanced narrative about the difference made possible through everyday purchases of Fair Trade products. It also shows how Fair Trade looks a little bit different everywhere you go, because every community has their own needs and priorities.

“In an ideal world, everyone could meet these farmers and workers for themselves, but the video allows the ability to start to bridge that connection between producer and product,” said Celina Plaza, senior manager of digital communications at Fair Trade USA.

With producer narration separated by striking aerial survey footage, the video documents a trip to three destinations around the globe—a coconut farming community in the Philippines, a textile factory in India, and a coffee farming community in Colombia—tracing the storied paths our products take before ultimately arriving on the shelf.

Sign the Fair Trade Difference pledge

The Fair Trade Difference asks you to follow through on your end of the deal by signing a pledge to choose Fair Trade Certified™ products when you shop, and in so doing, demonstrates the empowering force of Fair Trade for both producers and shoppers. We all have the power to make shared investment in the communities that provide for us, reverse the damaging effects of poverty and injustice, and turn every shopping trip into an opportunity to make an immediate and lasting difference in the world.

“So often, we deal with consumption by ignoring the other side of it,” said Dalia Burde, executive producer of the film. “You want to buy organic or Fair Trade—things that, to you, are just stickers on a product, without knowing that someone on the other side has had to work hard to make that product for you. To actually see every step of the process was eye-opening.”

Visit fairtradecertified.org/thedifference for more information and to sign the pledge.

Our friends at Avocados and Coconuts have shared beautiful behind-the-scenes journals and photos from each stop along the trip. Go to their website to read more about filming in the Philippines, Colombia, and India.

Image credit: Fair Trade USA

Fair Trade USA headshot

Fair Trade USA, a nonprofit organization, is the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in North America. Fair Trade USA audits and certifies transactions between companies and their international suppliers to ensure that the farmers and workers producing Fair Trade Certified goods were paid fair prices and wages, work in safe conditions, protect the environment, and receive community development funds to empower and uplift their communities. Fair Trade USA also educates consumers, brings new manufacturers and retailers into the system, and provides farming communities with tools, training and resources to thrive as international businesspeople. Visit www.FairTradeCertified.org for more information.

Read more stories by Fair Trade USA