10 easy tips to support Fair Trade

I’m no expert on fair trade, but I think it’s worth knowing more about. And the more I learn about fair trade, the more I see that it is linked to two of my biggest issues: feminism and environmentalism.

Women and children make up the majority of workers in the dangerous farms in third-world countries producing much of America’s flowers, coffee, cocoa (and chocolate), bananas and other goods. Better working conditions and better pay raises the standard of living for women and their families as well as the communities they live in.

On top of that, many of these farms use pesticides and other chemicals that are banned in the U.S. because they are so dangerous and toxic to people and the earth. If we make better shopping choices, we help the earth and people. It’s a win-win.

Without much research I found that there are many great places to shop to find fair-trade goods such as The Body Shop, Whole Foods (food and flowers, too!), Dunkin Donuts, CostPlus World Market, Uncommon Goods (online store), just to name a few.

And we even have a local organization dedicated to Fair Trade, started by a Noel Brown, called GIFT, or Growing Into Fair Trade.

Here’s some tips I got from TransFair USA, via Green Options:

1. Grab a cup of Fair Trade coffee, tea, hot cocoa or with a friend and start a discussion.

2. Give a Fair Trade gift and be sure to include a bit of information about the artisans who work hard to make it.

3. Bring some Fair Trade coffee to your office, school, church or social gathering with some information on Fair Trade. If you’re looking to make a permanent change, use some of the petitions and templates provided to get your organization to make the switch, and then join Co-op America’s Fair Trade Alliance.

4. If you are a student, grab some friends and join or create a campus organization with the United Students for Fair Trade.

5. Make a Fair Trade goodie: from banana bread to chocolate cake, there are plenty of delicious recipes to incorporate Fair Trade products. Check out recipes from the Fair Trade Cookbook, Divine Chocolate, or Equal Exchange. Enjoy your delicacies with some family, or give to a local bake sale with a bit of Fair Trade information.

6. Host your own film festival with TransFairs help. They provide the short DVD Fair Trade: The Story, as well as an action kit and discussion guidelines for other films. Or check out Black Gold for the story behind your morning brew.

7. Host a Fair Trade Party and choose from many different types of products. Try a product tasting from TransFair or Equal Exchange: both come with educational materials. A Greater Gift consignment deal lets you offer an array of crafts, and you can return what doesn’t sell. If you enjoy the party, consider becoming a consultant for Pachamama World. For a larger sale with your community, check out Ten Thousand Villages.

8. Present the Fair Trade model to a classroom or group.

9. Learn more with others. Use resources as foundation to open conversations.

10. Start a Fair Trade campaign with friends using OxFam’s toolkit, with action ranging from letter and email writing to hosting events and media coverage.

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