June 6, 2010

Answers for the Socially Responsible Shopper: Fair Trade

So, you want to save the environment (and bring World Peace) one organic, fair trade t-shirt at a time.  Good for you! But if you're spending $25 bucks on a t-shirt, instead of the 5 for $5 Wal-Mart variety, then you want to know that your extra dollars are DEFINITELY bringing World Peace.

Sustainable Salad Servers from One World Projects
The profits from "socially responsible" products are mostly used as advertised (to build schools/supply medical aid/pay fair wages/etc.), but sometimes they just get funneled off to pay for fancy marketing campaigns and PR ("Greenwashing").

A recent study found that 60% of consumers fail to purchase green products because they can't find what they want or are unaware of where to find those products while only 11% think green products are too expensive ("Capturing the Green Consumer" See Below).  You want to make the right choice, but you just haven't heard the right information.

That thought inspired the first installment of our new series:

"What does that mean?  Answers for the Socially Responsible Shopper"  
First up: Fair Trade

Fair Trade labels are based on a set of standards that require companies to pay producers their fair share of the profits from their goods and forbids social injustices, like child labor, in the production process.  For agricultural products, fair trade wages must also cover the cost of environmentally sustainable practice.

There are a few key companies that monitor the relationship between fair trade workers and the organizations that purchase from them.  These companies grant the right to display their stamp of approval on products that meet fair trade requirements.  If a company claims to be a fair trade company, look for the stamp of certification and do research into the certification to make sure fair trade rules are being followed.
One World Projects is a part of the Fair Trade Federation

For more information on the Fair Trade process, visit www.FairTrade.net, www.TransFairUSA.com, or the home page for the Fair Trade Federation.

Consumer study taken from "Capturing the Green Advantage for Consumer Companies" by the Boston Consulting Group: Joe Manget, Catherine Roche, Felix Munnich. January, 2009. http://www.bcg.com/documents/file15407.pdf

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