As the owner of a growing Fair Trade shop in Northern Kentucky, I have plenty of opportunities to talk with people about what Fair Trade is, as well as what it isn’t. While I definitely find that the general public’s awareness of sweatshops, unfair working conditions, and the exploitation of workers is increasing, a majority of the people I meet really don’t understand what the Fair Trade movement is and what it works to accomplish.
Buying Fair Trade isn’t About Charity
One of the most common questions we hear at “It’s only Fair!” is “If I buy this, how much of the money will go back to the person who made it?” While I do understand that this question springs from the heart of someone who is concerned that their purchase will actually benefit the artisan, it also hints of a mistaken assumption that what we are doing somehow involves charity. That we are donating some amount of money back to the people who create our products once they are sold.
In reality, everything in our shop has already been paid for. Each artisan is paid for their work up front, in full, and in every case they have received a fair, “living” wage. That is quite different from waiting for a donation, or hoping things sell so that you will be paid eventually.
I wholeheartedly believe that there is certainly a time and a place for charity and for giving to those who are less fortunate than we are. However, Fair Trade is not about charity. It is more about job creation and empowering an artisan to be able to earn a sustainable living. We firmly believe that job creation is the only long term solution to world poverty, and that being able to earn a sustainable income is what will break the cycle of poverty and enable those once trapped in it to create new lives and brighter futures for themselves, their families, and sometimes entire communities.
We all know there is nothing more satisfying than working hard, being proud of a job well done, and being able to provide for one’s own family. Honest work creates dignity and self-worth, and each one of us deserves that opportunity.
Fair Trade is Life Giving
Fair Trade also means way more than just knowing an item wasn’t made in a sweat-shop or with child labor. It means that the exchange of goods is done in a way that ensures every person involved in the making of your products is treated “fairly”. They are paid a fair wage, they have access to clean and safe facilities, health care, and the product they produce will be exchanged based on principles of economic and social justice.
– Fair Trade ensures fair pay and good working conditions for everyone on the production line. Read More on source web-page
See also slave-free-guide in where to buy fair products and how to recognize 100% slave free products