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As awareness of fair trade grows, so do many misconceptions about fair trade. Below are some popular myths about fair trade and the realities behind them.
Myth: Fair Trade is about paying developed world wages in the developing world.
Reality: Fair wages are determined by a number of factors, including the amount of time, skill, and effort involved in production, minimum and living wages in the local context, the purchasing power in a community or area, and other costs of living in the local context. Wages are determined independently from North American wage structures and are designed to provide fair compensation based on the true cost of production.
Myth: Fair Trade siphons off American jobs to other countries.
Reality: Fair trade seeks to change the lives of the poorest of the poor who frequently lack alternative sources of income. As North American fair trade organizations grow, they employ more and more individuals in their communities. Most fair trade craft products stem from cultures and traditions which are not represented in North American production. Most fair trade commodities, such as coffee and cocoa, do not have North American-based alternatives.
Myth: Fair Trade is anti-globalization.
Reality: International exchange lies at the heart of fair trade. Fair trade organizations seek to maximize the positive elements of globalization that connect people, communities, and cultures through products and ideas. At the same time, they seek to minimize the negative elements that result in lower labor, social, and environmental standards which hide the true costs of production.
Myth: Fair Trade is a form of charity.
Reality: Fair trade promotes positive and long-term change through trade-based relationships which seek to empower producers to meet their own needs. Its success depends on independent, successfully-run organizations and businesses - not on handouts. While many fair trade organizations support charitable projects on top of their work in trade, the exchange of goods remains the key element of their work.
Myth: Fair Trade results in more expensive goods for the consumer.
Reality: Most fair trade products are competitively priced in relation to their conventional counterparts. Fair trade organizations work directly with producers, cutting out exploitative middlemen, so they can keep products affordable for consumers and return a greater percentage of the price to the producers.
Myth: Fair trade production results in substandard goods for the consumer as compared to conventional production.
Reality: While handmade products naturally include some variation, fair trade organizations continuously work with their producer partners to improve quality and consistency. Through direct and long-term relationships, producers and fair trade organizations dialogue about consumer needs and create high quality products. Fair traders have received awards at the international Cup of Excellence and Roaster of the Year competitions, SustainAbility in Design, the New York Home Textile Show, and other venues.
Myth: Fair trade refers only to coffee.
Reality: Fair trade encompass a wide variety of agricultural and handcrafted goods, including baskets, clothing, cotton, footballs, furniture, jewelry, rice, toys, and wine. While coffee was the first agricultural product to be certified fair trade in 1988, fair trade handicrafts have been on sale since 1946.
Taking socially conscious fashion to a new level, prAna is proud to release the women's Soul T, its first Fair Trade Certified™ garment.
The T is manufactured by the Liberian Women's Sewing Project and meets Fair Trade principles. These include:
* Fair price to farmers for their goods
* Fair labor conditions and wages for farm and factory workers
* Direct market access eliminating unnecessary middlemen
* Democratic and transparent organizations
* Community development
* Environmental sustainability
Fair Trade USA, an Oakland nonprofit that certifies fair trade products, recently licensed Fair Vodka, the first product in a fair trade line of spirits.
"When you drink this vodka, you are helping Bolivian farmers earn a living wage and have enough left over to invest in their communities," said Jean-Francois Daniel, co-founder of the 2-year-old Fair Trade Spirits Company based in Paris. "When we buy their products, we're not giving them charity, we're just making sure they can sell their crops at a decent price."
Look for Fair Vodka on the shelves of your local stores. Fair isn't stopping with vodka. There's also Fair Goji, a goji berry liqueur made with fair trade sugar from the African nation of Malawi. Consumers can also look for Fair Café, a coffee liqueur made with fair trade coffee from Mexico. A fair trade rum is said to be in development.
What better way to give than from one's hands to another. Our spirited handmade store offers gift ideas that support communities and connect cultures. Stories are shared through our handmade gifts from all over the world.
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What is Fair Trade?
Fair Trade is a market based approach to solving social, economic and environmental injustice. Under Fair Trade standards, producers in developing countries are afforded economic opportunities to better their living conditions and have more control over their own lives. At the same time, environmental sustainability is given high priority as a key element in growth for current and future generations. Learn more about Fair Trade >
Some products may have slight variations in design and size - this is a natural occurrence in handcrafted goods.