A Few Thoughts on Fair Trade

What is fair trade?

Fair Trade is a social movement that was started in the 1940s to help families in Puerto Rico overcome poverty.  It has since grown into a global effort.  The movement is based on transparency, dialogue, and respect.  All fair trade products are produced by farmers and artisans who receive fair wages and payment for their products.  This helps to eliminate poverty by providing a reliable income.  It also helps to abolish sweatshops and different forms of labor abuse.

The Fair Trade Federation

The Fair Trade Federation is a non-profit organization which monitors and influences the Fair Trade movement and seeks equality in the international trading system.  It works to educate and empower farmers and workers to create decent living situations for themselves, their families, and their communities.  Instead of relying on aid, workers learn to build sustainable businesses, allowing them to meet their own needs.  Farmers learn and implement environmentally friendly practices, protecting the planet.  Through fair trade, the federation also empowers women, supports education, and provides health care.

Look for this logo!

A conflict in fair trade?

 Fair Trade USA is the organization which monitors fair trade in the United States and determines who should be given the “fair trade” seal.  Recently, they have become very relaxed with their standards and parted ways with Fair Trade International, causing an uproar among those who take the matter very seriously.  The organization has decided to make large coffee plantations, such as Folgers, eligible for the seal, betraying small co-ops such as Equal Exchange.  In addition, the seal will be given to products with as little as 10% fair trade ingredients, and other multi-million dollar companies will be considered for the organization.

 More information about the conflict can be found here.

More information about fair trade and getting involved:










Some fair trade co-ops:


(Ten Thousand Villages started the fair trade movement in 1946.)

By Caitlen Sellers, 2012 GTS Fellow and fan of fair trade