You’ve Heard Of Fair Trade, But What Is It?

Posted by GreaterGoodness

Although we’ve been hearing a lot about fair trade in recent decades, its origins in the United States date back to the 1940s, according to the Fair Trade Federation. On a trip to Puerto Rico, a Mennonite woman, Edna Ruth Byler, met workers who were unable to rise from poverty even though they were highly skilled lace makers. Byler brought the women’s wares back to the United States, sold them and then personally delivered the money to the women.

The concept of fair trade has gained increased public awareness in recent years. In its broadest sense, the term refers to ethical business practices and the paying of fair wages.


Among the most important values of fair trade are communication, respect and transparency. Fair trade strives to ensure that workers have good working conditions, without child labor or forced labor, and that they receive reasonable wages or prices for their labor or products. These concepts are especially applicable in the developing world, where workers may not have the same legal rights as workers in other countries.

Several organizations offer certification of products that meet fair trade standards. These are all independent agencies, and standards may vary between them. Some of the best-known organizations include Fairtrade International, the Fair Trade Federation and Fair Trade USA.

Women in developing countries are sometimes victims of gender-based discrimination that makes it very difficult for them to find employment that meets fair trade ethical standards. Organizations such as Fair Trade USA help ensure that these women have opportunities and provide them with education that focuses on the empowerment of women.


Buying fair trade products helps ensure that your dollars support businesses that treat workers equitably and help them achieve self-sufficiency. Visit the Greater Good Shop to purchase handcrafted items from countries around the world. In addition to supporting workers, each purchase helps fund food for the hungry both within and outside the United States.

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