Tuesday, March 18, 2003

My 2 lbs. of organic Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee has just been shipped.

Fair Trade is a really obvious solution to the really big problem of exploitation and the global economy. especially for a caffeine addict with somewhat upscale tastes and a social conscience.

What is Fair Trade?

Fair trade connects producers and consumers in more equitable, more meaningful and more sustainable ways. Fair Trade is based on seven principles as quoted by the Fair Trade Federation (FTF), the largest association of fair trade organizations.

Fair Wages --Paying fair wages does not necessarily mean that products cost the consumer more. Since Fair Trade Organizations bypass exploitative middlemen and work directly with producers, they are able to cut costs and return a greater percentage of the retail price to the producers.

Cooperative Workplaces-- Fair Trade Organizations work primarily with small businesses, worker owned and democratically run cooperatives and associations that bring significant benefits to workers and their communities.

Consumer Education --Fair Trade Organizations educate consumers about the importance of purchasing fairly traded products which support living wages and healthy working conditions.

Environmental Sustainability-- Fair Trade Organizations encourage producers to engage in environmentally friendly practices which manage and use local resources sustainably.

Financial and Technical Support -- Small-scale farmers and artisans in the developing world lack access to affordable financing, impeding their profitability. FTF members that buy products directly from producers often provide financial assistance either through direct loans, prepayment or by linking producers with sources of financing.

Respect for Cultural Identity --Fair Trade Organizations encourage the production and development of products based on producers' cultural traditions adapted for Western markets.

Public Accountability-- FTF members' finances, management policies, and business practices are open to the public and monitoring by the Fair Trade Federation.

I don't know much about the WTO or the people who protest it, but I think to simply be against World Trade is stupid and futile. For one thing many countries desperately need the money that could be pontentially brought in through trade. For another, it doesn't hold companies accountable.

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