Shop fair trade for sustainable gifts

Kelsey Bundra
Features Writer

Looking for a unique gift to give this holiday season? Purchasing holiday gifts can benefit someone in need and increase the economic growth of a developing country by fair trade online shopping.

The fair trade symbol certifies that the craftsman received fair pay for their work. By supporting fair trade, you are supporting equal pay.

The fair trade symbol certifies that the craftsman received fair pay for their work. By supporting fair trade, you are supporting equal pay.

“Fair trade is an organized social movement that aims to help producers in developing countries to make better trading conditions and promote sustainability,” explains the World Fair Trade Organization. It is an alternative to free trade. Free trade is the standard global economic system with little government restraints, leading to a competitive global market. Though free trade is seen as a good system, developing countries are often neglected. Fair trade organizations give developing countries and their citizens the ability to participate in the global economic system.
While much of the global south is still developing, investments in individuals can make a difference. Economic success of an individual artisan can influence the development of the community. “It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers – especially in the South,” says the WFTO.
Fair trade items are handmade and often eco-friendly or vegan. Things that would otherwise be thrown away are repurposed, like recycled saris being made into fabric bracelets and broken bangles being added to tea light holders. Mass produced products made in developing countries often infringe upon human rights at the expense of employees. Because fair trade products are handmade and not mass produced in a factory, the transparency in fair trade is valued. Artisans often work out of home and are paid fairly for their labor.
To make sure that the gifts being purchased are officially fair trade, most websites will say exactly where the items were made. A short description of the materials used is often provided, and websites will also be endorsed with a fair trade seal.

Fair trade websites offer many fashionable accessories like scarves, bags and earrings.

Fair trade websites offer many fashionable accessories like scarves, bags and earrings.

Though fair trade products can be purchased from countries around the world, there are some websites dedicated to fair trade products made by artisans in the U.S. Organizations such as Fair Trade USA, Fair Trade Federation, Fairtrade International, and Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International are devoted to spreading the word about fair trade and setting the standard for fair trade practices.
Do not be discouraged by purchasing fair trade due to prices. Fair trade prices include the price of labor. There are many Black Friday deals still happening online. The Amnesty International store has an ongoing sale that supports human rights. Most products are fair trade and discounted. Other purchases on the website donate to their cause: international justice in human rights.
Websites like the Hunger Site Store have a fair trade sale section; each item purchased provides at least 25 cups of food to someone in need. The measurement is determined by the amount paid through fair trade. The Hunger Site Store has apparel, jewelry, cooking accessories, and products for the home. Fashionable accessories like scarves, bags, and earrings are all on sale. Fair trade food products and specific gifts are also available online through basketsfromafrica.com.

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