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FAIR TRADE GIFTS

Why Should You Give Fair Trade Gifts this Holiday Season? Because Shopping Can Change the World!

Chances are if you're reading this, you understand the importance of Fair Trade, and in having an equitable and fair partnership between consumers and producers. You're not alone. According to the 2003 Report on Trends in Fair Trade, total sales for the Fair Trade industry in North America in 2002 were $180m, up 44 % from 2001. While the Fair Trade movement is growing, we've got a long way to go, and we need your help. If the Fair Trade movement is to succeed, consumer awareness and understanding need to expand.

Why Fair Trade?

Our consumer spending choices affect people's lives around the world. The products we enjoy are often made in conditions that harm workers, communities and the environment. But increasingly consumers like you are demanding more humane, more environmentally sensitive products. Fair Trade provides that alternative. Fair Trade means an equitable partnership between consumers in the Global North and producer cooperatives in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Fair Trade promotes community development, health and childcare, education and literacy training, and environmental stewardship.

In today's world economy, where profits rule and small-scale producers are left out of the bargaining process, farmers, craft producers, and other workers are often left without resources or hope for their future. Fair Trade helps exploited producers escape from this cycle and gives them a way to maintain their traditional lifestyles with dignity. Fair Trade encompasses a range of goods, from agricultural commodities like coffee, chocolate, and tea, to handcrafts like clothing, household items, and decorative arts.

Fair Trade Certification

Fair Trade commodities are certified by non-profit organizations in 17 different countries, all of which are affiliated with Fairtrade Labeling Organizations International. Fair Trade Certified commodities bear the seal of the certifying agency, providing a guarantee that fair trade practices were followed. In the US, TransFair USA certifies coffee, cocoa, and tea. The Fair Trade coffee system benefits over 350,000 farmers organized into over 300 cooperatives in 22 countries. The Fair Trade cocoa system benefits over 42,000 farmers organized into eight cooperatives in eight different countries. Fair Trade has helped farmers earn enough income to provide for their families' basic needs and invest in community development. However, these farmers are still selling most of their crop outside of the Fair Trade system because not enough companies are buying at Fair Trade prices.

Fair Trade handcrafts are purchased through a number of different Alternative Trading networks, such as the Fair Trade Federation and the International Federation for Alternative Trade.

Gift Giving Is More Important Than You May Think!

Consumers can be motivating leaders of the Fair Trade movement. By giving a Fair Trade gift, you're sharing an awareness that can inspire others. This holiday season and all year long, you have the opportunity to enlighten friends and family about the benefits of Fair Trade. Perhaps like you, they will shift some of their spending to Fair Trade.

When you give a soapstone box to Aunt Cleo this holiday, and attached is a small card that reads "the artisan who handcrafted this box received a living wage" perhaps she will begin to question how her own spending choices affect the world. That would be the best gift of all.


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