Play Nice: The Importance of Fair Trade
In a world where the gap between rich and poor keeps growing, fair trade makes a difference.
The main purpose of fair trade practices is to provide opportunities to impoverished nations and their people. The Fair Trade Federation defines fair trade as “an approach to business and to development based on dialogue, transparency, and respect that seeks to create greater equity in the international trading system.” Fair Trade organizations ensure workers are in safe labor conditions and paid higher wages to sustain themselves and their families. Employing the poor not only gives them higher wages, but also gives them faith.
Coffee, tea, bananas, and chocolate are the most common fair trade products. Since 1986, Equal Exchange, a Fair Trade Federation Member, offers products that are “sustainably grown and organic”, in addition to being fair-trade certified. It is apparent fair trade companies view that combining environmental and human awareness are essential to global equality.
There are corporations, however, who do not integrate fair trade in their businesses. The Dark Side of Chocolate (2010) exposed how child labor and child trafficking on the Ivory Coast are driving forces in the chocolate industry to keep America’s favorite candy bars inexpensive. Several huge chocolate companies, including Mars and Nestle, promised to abolish child trafficking in their production by 2008, but the documentary showed children still working the cocoa plantations.
As of October 3, 2012, Hershey started the “Raise the Bar, Hershey!” campaign, which promises the company will produce “ethically certified cocoa by its 2020 deadline.” Mars has been using Rainforest Alliance Cocoa and joined sustainable chocolate farming organizations since April 2009.
By encouraging large corporations to ethically employ impoverished peoples and promoting their products in the market, ethics will become a norm in business. More importantly, everyone is given the opportunity to live a better quality of life. Perhaps we don’t need the latest designer handbag or smartphone, but we have the responsibility as global citizens to help others obtain the resources we all need to survive—food, water, shelter, and hope.
“Human Trafficking: The Facts.” UN.GIFT. UN.GIFT, 2007. Web. 3 Oct 2012. .
Fair Trade Federation. Fair Trade Federation, 2012. Web. 3 Oct 2012. .
Equal Exchange. Equal Exchange, 2012. Web. 3 Oct 2012. .
“RAISE THE BAR, HERSHEY! CAMPAIGN WELCOMES HERSHEY’S ANNOUNCEMENT TO SOURCE 100% CERTIFIED COCOA BY 2020.” Raise the Bar. Green America, 03 Oct 2012. Web. 3 Oct 2012.
“MARS, INC. ANNOUNCES SUSTAINABILITY COMMITMENTS FOR COCOA.” . International Labor Rights Forum, 10 Apr 2009. Web. 3 Oct 2012. .