October is Fair Trade Month, which is exciting for us, because Fair Trade principles align closely with what we work toward in creating truly nourishing holistic spaces. There are numerous organizations dedicated to moving us closer to a Fair Trade society, and though each of them has their own set of specific standards and guidelines, there are a few underlying principles that really define what it means to encourage Fair Trade.
First, let's define "fair trade." According to Merriam-Webster, fair trade is
Following this general push to ensure that producers around the world are treated fairly and humanely, Fair Trade principles require that organizations participating in this trade meet the following guidelines:
- Seek to create opportunities for disadvantaged producers
- Maintain clear and understandable processes and procedures
- Establish fair prices that will both benefit producers and find sustainability in market
- Refrain from engaging in any sort of child labor or forced labor
- Refrain from discrimination for any reason, including but not limited to, age, gender, caste, nationality, HIV status and political beliefs
- Provide good working conditions
- Provide training and beneficial opportunities for workers to build their skills
- Actively promote fair trade
- Respect the environment
These conditions ensure that employers and companies not only reach out to third-world producers to take an active part in relieving poverty, but that each of these service providers and producers are treated with humane, dignified conditions that establish an enhanced quality of life.
This is all great, but what can each of us do to help encourage fair trading in our society? We can seek out Fair Trade products! The most common Fair Trade items are coffee, wine, fresh fruits and handicrafts. When you're creating a holistic space, Fair Trade handicrafts can be a fantastic way to fill your space with beautiful items while helping others at the same time!
Keep an eye out for:
- hand knit, organic textiles
- hand carved statues and home decor
- hand embroidered wall hangings and other art made from natural materials like jute. (Organic cotton is farmed with much higher regard for our environment, and often by family farmers in disadvantaged areas. Likewise, jute is a 100% biodegradable and recyclable rain-fed crop that grows predominately in Bangladesh and other Indian countries. )
- fair trade essential oils, (like the ones we use in our home mists!)
Like everything, there are products that will give the impression of Fair Trade without meeting the requirements, so be sure to look for a Fair Trade seal and do your research! Check out My Favorite Things this month to get your search started!