An initiative of the World Fair Trade Organization (www.wfto.com), World Fair Trade Day (WFTD) is an annual global celebration occurring each May. Celebrations bring consumers and businesses, nonprofit organizations, churches, student groups, and advocates together to host thousands of events worldwide.
Here in the U.S., the Fair Trade Resource Network (www.ftrn.org) will again coordinate U.S. specific events between May 6 – 20, 2012. In 2011, 50,000-70,000 people attended more than 300 local WFTD events including Fair Trade food tastings, talks, music concerts, fashion shows and much more, to help promote Fair Trade while campaigning for trade justice together with farmers and artisans.
This year, Fair World Project is participating in World Fair Trade Day by organizing a joint promotion with some of our favorite mission driven brands that are dedicated to fair trade throughout their entire supply chains. In other words, these brands have built fair trade supply chains for all of their main ingredients throughout all of their product lines; their mission is first about people and the planet. The dedicated fair trade brands sponsoring this coordinated campaign are Alaffia, Alter Eco, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, Equal Exchange, Guayaki Yerba Mate, and Maggie’s Organics.
Over 500 natural product retailers across the country have already signed up to participate in this unique initiative and many are hosting their own celebrations.
In-store events will include sampling and promotional discounts from dedicated fair trade brands; a screening of a new educational video about the principles of Fair Trade; and contest entry for a 17 day “Fair Trade Adventure to Sri Lanka.” The contest will be the first of its kind organized nationally and will provide an all expenses paid trip in conjunction with Intrepid Travel for 2 to visit the ‘Coconut Triangle’ region of Sri Lanka where the world’s first and largest organic and fair trade coconut oil project, Serendipol, is situated. Brands are also donating 1% of each purchase made at Whole Foods Markets to the Whole Planet Foundation (www.wholeplanetfoundation.org) which extends microcredit loans and grants to poor farmers and entrepreneurs around the world. Similarly, 1% of purchases made at member co-ops of the National Cooperative Grocers Association will be given as part of their Cause Promotion program in May to Root Capital (www.rootcapital.org), a nonprofit social investment fund that is pioneering finance for grassroots businesses in rural areas of developing countries.
These dedicated fair trade brands have joined together to increase awareness and uphold the vision of true fair trade. “Fair trade is at a crossroads, on the one hand there is increasing consumer support for ethically produced fair trade goods, while on the other increasing corporate pressure to lower fair trade standards. Consumers should know which brands are truly dedicated to fair trade who support high bar standards in trading fairly with producers, versus companies with only a minority portion of fair trade sales more interested in marketing than maintaining the integrity of fair trade criteria in business practices” says David Bronner, President of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps.
We want to highlight the incredible work each of these dedicated fair trade brands is doing to build healthy and sustainable communities throughout the globe by using fair trade as a model that is at the core of their business practices.
Look for these brands at your local grocery store throughout the year and during this joint promotion:
Alaffia was founded in 2003 by Olowo-n’djo Tchala as a means to alleviate poverty and advance gender equality in his native country of Togo, West Africa. The Alaffia organization is a complete fair trade cycle. Members of the Alaffia Shea Butter Cooperative handcraft raw ingredients according to traditional methods in Sokodé, Togo. These ingredients then make their way to Washington State, where they are incorporated into the formulations of Alaffia Sustainable Skin Care, EveryDay Shea, and Beautiful Curls products. The Alaffia mission embodies three clear principles:
- Create: We formulate and create our products based on indigenous beauty knowledge and unrefined, fair trade ingredients.
- Inform: Alaffia products inform the public about interconnections between communities and how, together, we can alleviate poverty through fair trade and sustainable choices.
- Empower: Our fair trade shea butter cooperative and community projects encourage self-sufficiency and promote gender equality in our West African communities.
In addition to providing a fair wage and benefits to Alaffia cooperative members, a minimum of 10% of Alaffia product sales are returned to Togo to fund empowerment projects in disadvantaged communities. This relationship is unique and makes Alaffia a true fair trade organization, building sustainable communities with affordable, clean and effective products.
Alter Eco is a value-based brand of specialty food products that brings delicious, exotic, high-quality and healthy ingredients from around the world to people here in the United States, while directly benefitting the small-scale farmers that produce them. Alter Eco’s offering includes colorful Quinoa Real grains from Bolivia, Heirloom Rice varieties from Thailand, Dark Chocolate bars and Unrefined Sugar from the Philippines. The path of Alter Eco and its products address many of the tough questions we face about the food we eat today: Where does it come from Who grows these products, and are they treated fairly How can we reduce environmental impact and ensure an ethical supply chain while delivering a higher quality, more nutritional product to our customers
Alter Eco decided to address these issues holistically. As a company, we are committed to:
- selling food products that capture distinct attributes of various regions around the world
- supporting the small-scale farmers who grow our products by buying 100% of our products above and beyond Fair Trade standards, ensuring fair wages, good working conditions and hours, and opportunities for economic growth and development
- providing healthy, good-for-you organic foods that come from a healthy, good-for-you ecosystem
- promoting agriculture that restores ecosystems. 100% of our carbon emissions are offset through reforestation and forest conservation/restoration efforts in Peru and Thailand.
Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps
“Constructive Capitalism is where you share the profit with the workers and the Earth from which you made it!” – Emanuel Bronner.
For more than 60 years Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps has been a trusted manufacturer of soaps known for Old-World quality and simplicity. Living up to our reputation as a benchmark for green body care, we use certified organic and fair trade ingredients for at least 95% of our agricultural input by volume. With a long-standing cap on executive pay at 5 times the lowest paid position we’ve always offered generous benefits including no-deductible health care for employees as well as their families.
Since 2005 we have invested significantly and globally in fair trade supply projects ranging from Sri Lanka (coconut oil), to Palestine & Israel (olive oil), to Ghana (palm oil), to Mexico (jojoba oil). Operated by Dr. Bronner’s sister companies or by partner firms, these projects serve as catalysts for rural development and now affect the lives of some 10,000 farmers, workers and family members and their communities. We hope to inspire other companies to take responsibility for their supply chains and to ensure that they are sustainable and fair for all involved. Dr. Bronner’s proudly works with the Swiss certifier IMO to develop and/or certify our projects around the world. Videos and additional information about our Fair trade mission can be found at www.drbronner.com .
Twenty-five years ago, Equal Exchange was founded with a simple but powerful idea: what if food could be traded in a way that was honest and fair, and that empowered small farmers, consumers, and the workers themselves Our ideas have taken hold and we have grown and evolved; but we have never strayed from these deeply-held values and principles. Today, our democratic, 100% Fair Trade co-operative employs over 100 worker-owners, trades with over 40 small farmer organizations in 20 countries, and supplies their fairly traded coffee, tea, chocolate, bananas, olive oil, and snacks to thousands of food co-operatives, faith congregations, schools, cafes, and restaurants throughout the United States.
We engage in direct, long-term relationships with our farmer partners, pay above market prices, facilitate pre-harvest credit, and access to productive and capacity-building projects. In the U.S., we work to inform, educate and engage the community in the issues facing small farmers, Fair Trade, and our food system in general. Through these means – strong relationships, consumer education, community engagement, and concrete actions – our goal is to strengthen small farmer supply chains, build a more just food system and a more cooperative economy. The time has never been more urgent and the opportunities more within our reach.
Guayaki Yerba Mate
The rainforest and the commercial world have had a rocky relationship; big business has long used its buying power to access land and other valuable forest resources unsustainably. But by fostering a demand for yerba mate, a drink made from leaves harvested in the South American rainforest, Guayaki has managed to harness the purchasing power of the consumer and take advantage of the system in a way that respects nature and protects people.
Guayaki has spent 15 years introducing North America to yerba mate, a drink with the strength of coffee, health benefits of tea and euphoria of chocolate. Guayaki cultivates the beloved plant by partnering with indigenous farmers in Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, who rely on the rainforest for their way of life and are the heart and soul of conservation efforts. Yerba mate is grown organically in the shade of the rainforest, while reforestation projects nurture new yerba mate trees to grow more. Each bottle, can, tea bag and loose-leaf bag of yerba mate sold supports Guayaki’s mission to restore 200,000 acres of South American Atlantic rainforest and create over 1,000 living wage jobs for local communities by 2020.
Maggie’s Organics has been providing accessories and apparel using certified organic fibers since 1992. We came from the organic food business, where we had direct relationships with organic farmers. Once we learned about the disparaging conditions that workers endure at apparel factories, we knew we had to find a better way. Sustainability cannot start and end with the earth’s resources, but must extend to cover human resources as well.
So we endeavored to find or to create factories where workers’ rights and independence are valued. We vet each supplier at every step of a complicated supply chain. We helped develop three 100% worker-owned cooperatives – two in Nicaragua and one in North Carolina – that sew garments and gin cotton for many of our products. We prepay each of our farmers to cover seed and planting costs for every pound of their crop before they plant. We purchase all raw materials for each step of production, developing long-term relationships with contractors that provide fair wages and good working conditions.
We are fully transparent about each supplier we use; information on who makes each Maggie’s product is available on our website.
We are fortunate to have a customer base that looks beyond our styles and our colors to find out about the lives behind the labels, and we know that this is how trade truly becomes fair.
For more information about World Fair Trade Day please visit www.ftrn.org