In 2015, there were 783 million people living in poverty. Although there has been some progress in reducing this number in the past few years, poverty continues to be a serious issue. Fairtrade is one simple yet impactful approach to alleviate this problem. The purchase of fair trade products supports gender equality, children’s and workers’ rights, and sustainable farming. Unfortunately, consumers are often unaware of the availability of fair trade products. This is mainly because they haven’t been generally accessible. The fair trade market is showing signs of growth, however, and the purchase of fair trade products can become a key to promote the reduction of poverty.
The Morning Pick-Me-Up
Starbucks, one of the most popular coffee companies in the world, has been promoting fairtrade globally since 2000. The company is attempting to improve the lives of more than 1 million people who live in communities that revolve around the coffee industry. Toward that end, Starbucks now purchases 99 percent ethically grown coffee through Conservation International and has committed to 100 percent by 2020. The company has also launched a Global Farmer Fund Program which is committing $50 million to finance the renovation of coffee farms.
The goal is to develop more sustainable farming practices with improved employment conditions. More than 29,000 Starbucks stores around the world are having a substantial impact.
The Fashion Industry
The fashion industry is often guilty of using problematic and unethical labor practices, particularly child labor. This is because the industry embeds children in the supply chain to handle low-skilled tasks such as cotton-picking for extremely low wages. For this reason, it is very difficult to pay fair wages and still compete in the industry. Nevertheless, some fair trade products are starting to become competitive.
Athleta and Aventura are two companies that are offering sustainable fair trade clothing. Athleta is an activewear brand that has created more than 40 fair trade styles. They have committed to creating up to 230 by the end of the year.
Aventura sells fashionable, everyday clothing items for women and men that are made using fair trade practices. They use low-impact, sustainable materials for over 75 percent of their styles. The company also partners with Fair Trade USA to give back to the workers who produce their clothing. These fair trade companies provide good alternatives to clothing from brands like Urban Outfitters or Free People.
Scrubs and Suds
Lush is making the acquisition of ethically produced cosmetic products easier. Organizations like Fairtrade International have fair trade certified many Lush products. In some cases where ingredients have not been fair trade certified, Lush forms a direct relationship with the supplier to ensure that workers are treated and paid fairly. Lush also supports sustainable practices by its suppliers. Consumers are supporting improved working conditions in the cosmetics industry by purchasing products from Lush.
For the Occasional Sweet Tooth
Small family farms, the majority of which are located in West Africa, produce 90 percent of the world’s cocoa. Tony’s Chocolonely buys fair-trade chocolate to ensure that farmworkers are treated well and paid fairly. Tony’s is fair trade certified, producing 100 percent slave-free chocolate.
Tony’s works with 5,021 farmers and is committed to providing all of them with a living wage. The company pays its farmers a Fairtrade premium as well as their own premium. With this structure, the farmers get more than 9.6 percent of the retail price. Grocery stores throughout West Africa are making Tony’s chocolate bars easily accessible.
And So Much More…
Fairtrade shopping is one of the simplest yet most impactful ways to benefit the world’s poor. Fortunately, quality fair trade products are becoming easier to find than people might assume. Organizations like Fairtrade America and Fair Trade Certified have validated many ethical companies. It is important to seek out and support companies that sell fair trade products because purchasing fair trade products is a great alternative that facilitates poverty reduction.
– Ryley Bright