May is Fairtrade Month
by Sean McHugh
What is Fair Trade?
Fair trade is a powerful tool that aims to empower marginalized producers to improve their own living conditions. With the proper resources, capacity, and access to key relationships, disadvantaged producers can earn their own means to a better life for themselves and their communities. —www.cftn.ca
On May 1st, Fairtrade Month will kick off a month of activities, events, sales, and stories. This month-long event will celebrate fair trade and everything that has been achieved to date. Community groups will host events, companies will run promotions in-store, and social media will be a-buzz with activity. The purpose? To drive awareness of fair trade, and what it means to producers, farmers, and artisans around the world.
Farmers and workers in developing countries, who grow or make many of the products we buy, are often in the weakest position to ensure their earnings are enough to meet their needs. When the prices (or wages) they receive aren’t enough, they are forced to make sacrifices that trap them and their communities in a cycle of poverty. Buying Fairtrade certified products helps to ensure that some of the most disadvantaged producers in the world have access to global markets, creating the means for long-term investment in environmental and labour standards and community development.
The world faces many challenges, from global poverty, to climate change and inequality. While these challenges sometimes seem larger than life, each of us has a role and a responsibility to do our part. Buying Fairtrade certified products is a great place to start, and it can be something as simple as switching over your coffee, buying a different type of tea, or keeping an eye out for the Fairtrade mark when buying a bar of chocolate.
With so many claims of fairness and sustainability in the marketplace, third-party verification is an invaluable tool to ensure purchases actually do connect with these values. The Fairtrade Mark (pictured above) represents the best known and most respected ethical certification system for social sustainability issues. The Fairtrade system is also co-owned by the very farmers and workers meant to benefit from it.
This May, commit to buying at least one Fairtrade certified product, and then see how many you can add to your shopping list throughout the year! Secondly, Saturday May 9th is World Fair Trade Day, so find an event nearest you and join the celebration!
Sean McHugh is Executive Director of Canadian Fair Trade Network, 514 - 207 West Hastings St. Vancouver, BC, V6B 1H7. To contact him and the network, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 604-685-6005, and visit www.cftn.ca.