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While you have probably heard of Fairtrade – many products have this mark on them – you may not know much about World Fair Trade Day. This takes place on the second Saturday in May and was created in order to celebrate the steps we have taken to fight against things like poverty, climate change, and exploitation.
The Fair Trade movement itself is all about workers across the world being treated fairly. This includes decent working conditions, as well as fair wages. So, other than looking out for fair trade items when you shop, how can you take part in the fair trade movement? We’ve explored this topic in more detail below:
Although the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) has been in existence since 1989, World Fair Trade Day itself was created several years later, in 2004. This worldwide festival is made up of various events, celebrating Fair Trade and the fight against social, economic and ecological crises across the globe, particularly within some of the world’s more vulnerable populations.
The fair trade movement itself goes back even further. In the 1940s, a woman called Edna Byler, who was already selling textiles from the boot of her car, went to Puerto Rico and saw the fine embroidery being created by the women there. She wanted to help those living in the area, who were struggling after the Depression, and decided to sell the Puerto Rican textiles to her friends and neighbours. She made sure that people knew where the exquisite needlework was done too.
Byler’s business continued to grow, and by the 1950s, it had become a movement, known as Ten Thousand Villages. People across the world were beginning to realise that workers needed to be treated fairly, regardless of where they were living. And in 1964, this idea led to the creation of the first Fair Trade Organization.
Last year, the celebration focused on climate justice, looking at the solutions offered by the organic and cooperative movements of Fair Trade. In recent years, we have been facing more of an ecological crisis than ever before, which must be addressed with speed and fresh solutions. If we work together, we should be able to make a difference for future generations to come.
When it comes to celebrating World Fair Trade Day, there are a number of different ways in which you can show your support. We’ve looked at the main three activities you can take part in below:
The most obvious thing you can do, on Fair Trade Day itself, and whenever possible, is buy fair trade products. This supports workers across the globe who may not get a fair deal without the support of people like you. If you’re not sure where to start, in terms of buying fair trade items, you can visit the Fairtrade website – this will give you an idea of the types of fair trade products that can easily be found in shops and online. Alternatively, the Fairtrade Federation allows you to search hundreds of verified fair trade businesses.
As well as shopping for fair trade products, you can also take part in virtual events on World Fair Trade Day. These events should help you learn more about creating a more sustainable future for the generations to come. Industry experts and movement leaders will often give talks about social innovations and the steps that are currently being taken to promote sustainability.
Once you’ve learnt more about the fair trade movement, through virtual events and your own research, you can spread the word! From posting on social media to discussing fair trade with friends and family, letting others know about the important work that’s being done can make a big difference to communities all over the world.
While some products, such as bananas, have a clear sticker indicating that they’ve been fairly traded, it’s not always so easy to tell. Especially if you’re buying online. But there are a few ways you can tell if something is fair trade. For example, the Fair Trade Federation will often certify products, particularly artisan handicrafts. So as long as you know what the fair trade logo looks like, you should be able to identify lots of fair trade items.
When it comes to shopping online, things get a little trickier. You may need to research the company you’re buying from, looking into their fair trade policies and practices. Businesses should be transparent about their relationship with vendors, and if they are trading fairly, will probably want you to know about it! You can also check to see if the business is a member of the World Fair Trade Organization.
The World Fair Trade Organization is a global community, which focuses on both social enterprise and fair trade. They are perhaps best known for their Guarantee System, which verifies businesses, ensuring that they put the interests of artisans, workers and farmers first. Their main priorities include the following:
Overall, the WFTO believes that the global crisis we are now facing confirms the need for a sustainable and fair economy. This includes fair trade – helping the most vulnerable people, ensuring that they have sustainable livelihoods.