It’s a New Year and the number of fair trade products is expanding, you can see this just by walking down an isle of the grocery store. This growing number of products, choices and availability is a direct response to consumer demand. That means you! First, sales are no longer small: retail sales of Fair Trade items passed $6 billion worldwide in 2010, growing 27% over 2009. Sales in just the U.S. since 1998 have generated additional income paid to producers, beyond normal market rates, of $220 million. As of 2011, 827 producer organizations in 58 developing countries are Fair trade Certified. (3)
“Fair Trade is part of a larger movement about corporate social responsibility, influenced by the public’s desire to deal with companies that are (committed) to workplace quality, the environment and employee well-being.”
~ Mac McCoy, president, dZi–The Tibet Collection (2)
When we make the choice to buy fair trade products we support producers on many levels. Unlike mainstream trade agreements fair trade agreements are rooted in supporting farmers and artisans. These relationships often lead to an increase in a producer group’s ability improve their daily lives. Sales from fair trade products pay for community development, to build schools, provide clean drinking water, pay for sickness benefit and pilot organic conversion schemes among other things. In conventional trade, the producer generally receives only 1% of the retail price consumer’s pay but in Fair Trade the producer generally receives 20 – 45% of the retail price. (3)
Fair trade products have financed a magnitude of programs that impact producers lives daily. The Union of Indigenous Communities of the Isthmus coffee growing cooperative in Oaxaca dedicated funds from the sale of Fair trade products for a variety of social purposes. They paid for the construction of latrines; fuel-efficient household stoves to reduce disease, smoke related respiratory problems; training local youth as community development workers. But also for environmentally focused activities for combating deforestation, and training young people in appropriate composting technologies intercropping of coffee and legumes, animal husbandry, and alternative food and cash cropping. At the Majomunt’s organic coffee cooperative in Chiapas, Mexico the soil conservation used has helped reduce soil loss erosion by 38,000 tons per year. In these ways fair trade is helping to preserve cultural identity and pride. (4)
A significant number of studies identified increased self-confidence gained by producers particularly women who participate in fair trade.
“In the beginning when we were struggling to make money and find customers, when one person would want to give up, the others were beside them and encouraging them to stick with it.” – Sonia Anahue Uscamayta has been working in Peru with the Munay Rumi jewelry cooperative for four years. (1)
There is evidence that participation in fair trade improves quality of life for producers as well as product quality. Relationships between buyers and producers are long term when fair trade. This leads to substantial improvements in product quality as long-term direct trade relationships create incentive improve in years to come. Producers are allowed to plan for the future they can depend on stability; both their buyers and their market thanks to fair trade products. Murry et al (2003) reported that the Majomunt cooperative in Chiapas is planning for the future by investing in a community organic farming promoter, which has allowed farmers to convert their coffee and other crops to higher-income generating, diversified and more ecologically sound production. (4)
“With Fair Trade we have an incentive to invest in social programs that benefit producers and the community. We also receive higher incomes to sustain ourselves. If it weren’t for Fair Trade, we wouldn’t exist as banana producers since the amount we receive for a box of conventional bananas does not cover our expenses.” ~ Edinson Cabana Zapata, co-op member, ASOPROBAN banana cooperative, Colombia (2)
When we buy Fair Trade products, we know that:
- Artisans and farmers are paid a fair and livable wage
- No child labor is involved
- Safe working conditions are provided
- Environmentally sustainable production methods are used.
- Profits are reinvested into the community for education, health care, and social services
- Communities become self-sustaining and can raise themselves out of poverty
Thanks for supporting fair trade!
1. “Crafting Change: Fair Trade Artisan Tour.” Green America: Economic Action for a Just Planet. Web. 19 Jan. 2012. <http://www.greenamerica.org/programs/fairtrade/tour.cfm>.
2. Fair Trade Community. Web. 24 Jan. 2012. <http://www.fairtradecommunity.org/index.php?option=com_content>.
3. Fair Trade Resource Network » Our Goal: To Create a Market That Values the People Who Make the Food We Eat and the Goods We Use. Web. 24 Jan. 2012. <http://www.fairtraderesource.org/>.
4. Nelson, Valerie, and Barry Pound. “The Last Ten Years: A Comprehensive Review of Literature on the Impact of Fairtrade.” Review. Print.
5. “Fairtrade Certification.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 24 Jan. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairtrade>.
Join us for our Annual Free Film Fest presented by the South Sound Clean Clothes Campaign, a community anti-sweatshop group since 2000. We will show the investigative film, The Dark Side of Chocolate, a film that looks at child labor and slavery in the Ivory Coast and evaluates the promises made by large chocolate manufacturers to deal with this issue when over the last decade there were revelations about the abuses of children and witb pressure from Congress, promises by the industry to stop labor abuse. Filmmakers Miki Mistrati and U Roberto Romano launched a behind-the-scenes investigation to verify if these allegations of child labor in the chocolate industry are present today.
Also we will show 2 short videos on the situation for garment workers in Bangladesh. One, TRIANGLE RETURNS, by the Institute for Global Labour & Human Rights draws the parallels between the sweatshop conditions in the U.S. 100 years ago which led to the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire in New York City and the current day working conditions for 3.4 million garment workers in Bangladesh. The second, produced by Sweatfree Communities, updates the struggle of workers in Bangladesh to protest to improve their working conditions even while such protests are repressed and leaders are imprisoned and threatened with life sentences or death. All of the above beg the questions, which, hopefully a renewed sense of urgency, leads us to some individual actions but also to some collective and community actions.
View the trailer here.
Traditions Fair Trade is located at 300 5th Ave in downtown Olympia. 360-705-2819.
Closing the Loop on the Global Apparel Supply Chain Cambodian Labor Activists join members of Seattle City Council and WA State Legislature to call for Washington State to pass a SweatFree Purchasing Policy
This is an opportunity for producers and consumers to create a humane supply chain that benefits everyone with high working standards and living wages.
Marigold is an annual sponsor of the Bike Commuter Contest. This week we wanted to highlight another sponsor who is also a fair trade business based in Olympia and works with a women’s co-op in Togo, West Africa to create shea butter products such as lotions, creams, hair care and now baby products! Alaffia is not only selling great fair trade products but they are also involved in a number of community projects such as the “Bikes for Togo” project. For the past 5 years, Alaffia has collected used bikes at fundraisers across the country and sent them by container full to Togo. These bikes help girls access to education by proving means of transportation for the girls to get to school. To read more about the project , Alaffia and the Commuter Contest visit: http://thurstonbcc.blogspot.com/p/alaffiia-bike-program-for-togo.html
Friday, March 25th marks the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in New York City when a fire in a garment factory resulted in the deaths of 146 workers. The 500 workers at this factory were mostly women, and predominately very young immigrants from Europe. As a fire broke out on the top three floors of a nine story building the piles of flammable materials, the exit doors locked by employers, the inadequate fire escape which collapsed, and fire truck ladders which only reached six floors high led many to leap from their deaths from the 9th floor.
The local labor rights group, the South Sound Clean Clothes Campaign , honors this historical tragedy, the magnitude of which spurred campaigns to demand new safety and labor laws, while also highlighting the imperative need to address the many sweatshop abuses still present in the global marketplace. We will do this by exhibiting the paintings of garment workers around the globe by Northwest artist Janet Essley.
Accompanying the exhibit displayed at Traditions Fair Trade (located at 300 5th Ave in downtown Olympia) will be an explanation not only of the Triangle Fire in 1911 but the sweatshop conditions, even the parallel fires, that still occur in garment factories around the globe, especially in Bangladesh.
For more information you can contact Dick @ Traditions 705-2819. 300 5th Ave SW Olympia or Beth@marigoldfairtradeclothing.com
Painting by Featured NW artist Janet Essley
After an incredible weekend at the National SweatFree Summit, we are thrilled to announce that Olympia has officially joined the Sweatfree Consortium! For over 9 years, the South Sound Clean Clothes Campaign, a coalition of Olympia, Tumwater, and Lacey students, union members, people of faith, and concerned citizens have been working to raise awareness about the sweatshop industry, and challenge individuals as well as public and private institutions to create positive change by altering their purchasing practices.
At Olympia’s final City Council meeting in 2009, the council voted unanimously to join the Consortium. Now the official papers have been signed and Olympia will join cities and states throughout the country as members of the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium which “assists member governments in meeting their goals for responsible sweatshop-free purchasing. It meets a critical need for information about supplier factories by providing expertise and pooling resources to monitor working conditions and enforce “sweatfree” procurement standards”.
This weekend Marigold staff joined over 50 sweatfree activists throughout the country gathered in Olympia for a series of workshops and strategy sessions.
Pictured here is Liana from Sweatfree Communitites, Trina from Intl Labor Rights Forum and Reynaldo Corporan Donastorg, FEDOTRAZONAS Union, Dominican Republic.
Join us this weekend for SweatFree Communities’ 7th annual gathering! The National SweatFree Summit will include workshops for new organizers and experienced campaigners alike. The National Summit is where we develop plans to grow membership in the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium, lay out the next steps for our emerging campaign for a federal sweatshop-free purchasing policy, and coordinate local work across the country. This year’s Summit will be especially exciting as it is our first national gathering since the founding of the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium. Come join us in celebrating this major accomplishment and in designing our work for 2011.
Speakers will include:
- Andrew Kang Bartlett, Presbyterian Hunger Program
- Kristen Beifus, Washington Fair Trade Coalition
- Daniel Cardozo, Ethix Merch
- Bjorn Claeson, SweatFree Communities
- Colette Cosner, Witness for Peace
- Reynaldo Corporan Donastorg, FEDOTRAZONAS Union, Dominican Republic
- Carmen Duran, Tijuana Center for Information for Workers (CITTAC), Mexico
- Alan Flum, Fair Workplace Council
- Dick Meyer, Traditions Fair Trade
- Christine Moody, Director of Purchasing, City of Portland, Oregon
- Augusto Obregon, Federation for the Integral Development between Farmers, Nicaragua
- Victor Velez, Workers United Puerto Rico
Planning to attend only part of the weekend? Check out our free public events with national and international speakers. Conference registration not required for these events although we do welcome donations.
Schedule overview, location, etc
Our 2010 Summit follows on years of sweatfree organizing in Olympia and this summer’s sweatfree policy victory in Seattle. Now Sweatfree Northwest is taking the campaign to the state! If you arrive in Olympia in time, please join us at our briefingon the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium at the Washington State Capitol, Cherberg Building, Senate Hearing Room #2, Friday, Nov. 5th, 3:00-4:30pm.
Following the briefing, check-in at the registration table at Traditions Cafe, 300 5th Avenue SW, Olympia, WA 98501.Dinner for Summit participants (included in your registration) will be at Traditions at 6pm. Following the meal is our opening plenary, 7:00-8:30pm also at Traditions.
Saturday and Sunday events will be held at First Christian Church, 701 Franklin St. SE, Olympia, WA 98501. The conference runs through 12pm on Sunday, Nov. 5th.