In order for a product to be considered as belonging by the fair trade definition, it has to have what is called a fair trade certification. If fair trade clothing and products have this certification then it tells consumers that the seller is committed to the concept of fairtrade. It also makes the consumers trust the product more and also increases the likelihood of the conscious consumer to purchase the items. There is no need therefore for consumers to have to do research regarding the product because they know that they can put trust in the act because of the Fair Trade Certification.
Fair Trade Certification
Aside from giving consumers trust, a certification allows products to be differentiated from others. This in turn gives them the much needed competitive advantage over other commercial products in the market. Competitive advantage because it gives everyone involved their own brand, so to speak. This means that from the producers and workers down to the wholesalers and the retailers, everyone gets to enjoy the benefits. Without this label, these groups would have to contend with multinational companies who spend a large amount of money just to create a brand that consumers will identify and buy.
Labeling or branding further helps in creating standards for the different products. Think of it as an ISO Certification but instead of companies it is put into products. One good thing about certification is that it is not rigid like the others. The standards set are flexible and can be changed when the need arises. Thus if there are changes in the market, the standards are revised in order to keep it updated and in line with the latest trends in fair trade.
There is no one specific group or agency that hands out a fair trade certification. In the U.S., certification is given out by the group TransFair USA. Fair Trade organizations like TransFair USA is in fact the one in charge of certifying products in the North America region. The group certifies products such as chocolate, tea, coffee and other agricultural goods. The group even certifies processed food like canned juice, energy drinks, chocolate and ice cream, among others.
In Europe, the task of certifying products is done by FLO-CERT GmbH. Working hand in hand with FLO International the certifying group gives out certification to Fair Trade products in more than seventy nations worldwide.
Technology and fair trade at first glance seems to be on opposite poles. Presently it has been largely associated with handicrafts, agricultural products and food items. There is, however, an industry that is just ripe for inclusion in this movement, this is the field of electronics.
Can Technology and Fair Trade Happen?
Electronic items like microchips are by nature artificial materials, meaning they are made using a combination of other raw materials. People often relate electronics with gadgets like cellular phones, laptops and many others.
Few people know that the components for the gadgets they buy are in reality being manufactured in developing countries. In some cases even the assembly of the gadgets is done in the same countries. People who do this work are exposed to an environment that is not only stressful but even unhealthy. To add insult to injury the wages the workers receive are relatively low compared to the prices the gadgets are being sold.
By inculcating the concept of fair trade the electronics sector will not only benefit the companies in it but also the workers. Consider the fact that to make one electronic gadget, say a cell phone, a lot of companies are involved in the manufacturing process, from the LCD screen to the casing of the phone. If a company were to have this certification then it implies that everyone involved must also have certification. The result is a gadget that carries this certification, means that consumers will put their trust on the product and are more likely to buy it. This increases the profits of the company as well as the earnings of the workers. This is but one example of how technology and fair trade can work hand-in-hand.
A Competitive Advantage
Another advantage of having this certification is that this will differentiate the company from its competitors giving them a competitive advantage. Electronic companies nowadays are doing their best to tell consumers that their products are “Eco-friendly” or “environment-friendly.” What better way to boost that claim than by having a fair trade certification?
Don’t Limit Fair Trade Products
With the fast pace in the improvement of technology, people will have to decide sooner or later that indeed electronics can be part of the movement. Fair trade products need not be limited to agricultural or handicrafts, technology and fair trade is the next step and is waiting just around the corner.
Are you looking for a list of Fair Trade products? I just found this great resource for buying fair trade products and Fair Trade Clothing. Check it out for yourself and see if there are some products you would like to purchase local to you. Even if they aren’t local most companies will usually ship products to you very happily. The shipping may cost a little more but it will be worth it.
Fair Trade Products List
There is a download list available for all sorts of products for sale from all over the world. The Fair Trade Federation (FTF) is the trade association that strengthens and promotes North American organizations that are fully committed to fair trade. If you know of other companies, I’d love to hear from you, so we can share the knowledge about Fair Trade clothing and products across the globe! http://www.fairtradefederation.org
Funky Fair Trade Shoes
Have a look at this company, this company ETIKO Fair Trade Shoes has some really funky Fair Trade shoe designs.
When Paballo was eleven years old in Grade 5 at school, his mother became mentally ill and had to give up her work in a bookshop. As a result, Paballo became very dependent on his father. In his second year at high school when he was fifteen, he was devastated when his father died. As there was now no means of raising the fees required for his schooling, Paballo dropped out of school.
How Fair Trade changed Paballos’ life
Three years later, a past school principal of his paid the fees to enable him to go back to school. It was at this time that the Christian Revival Church through the outreach ministry arm of the church called ‘Love in Action Lesotho’ and one of the projects under this umbrella ‘Jewels of Hope’ (JoH) became aware of his situation and he was invited to join the first group of JoH in 2005. With the financial assistance that he was given he was able to finish his high schooling and went on to college to study home economics. He also learnt the skills of Jewellery making.
Fair Trade Skills
During his schooling he worked in making Fair Trade jewellery in Lesotho. Paballo was mentored and taught many skills. He learnt a variety of jobs including renovating, and showed how to maintain,
his house. At the age of twenty-one, Paballo was still sleeping in the same room as his mentally ill mother – two other rooms in the house where un-liveable. Paballo was also taught how to repair and restore these two rooms. He now has a bedroom of his own and is able to rent out the other room to bring in some income.
After completing the three-year ‘Jewels of Hope’ (JoH) Fair Trade Jewellery program, he became a trainer and worked with a group of five children to disciple and mentor them as well as teaching them how to make jewellery. He has gone on to be a teacher’s aide at the American International School in Maseru, the capital city of Lesotho. Life would have been very different for Paballo if he had not had the opportunity to learn many skills including making Fair trade jewellery.
‘Jewels of Hope’ (JoH) is an organization started to teach orphans and vulnerable children how to make Fair Trade jewellery as a source of income. It was started under ‘Love in Action Lesotho’ (LiAL) in Lesotho, Africa.
Fair Trade Jewellery made by orphans and vulnerable children
By supporting Jewels of Hope you enable children to receive:
Basic income to buy food, shoes & clothes
The means to attend school
Access to care, mentorship and personal development
Finance to purchase materials to make more products
After the death of his mother when he was six years old, Daniel went to live with an uncle. When he was in Grade 3 at school, he went into the mountains to live with his father but as he was required to herd the cows every second day, he only went to school on alternate days. After his father died when he was in Grade 6, so Daniel returned to live with his uncle again. Unfortunately, his uncle became blind and died, so the following year, when Daniel was in Grade 7, he went to live with his grandmother.
Daniel’s aunt had recently become involved as a trainer in a project called ‘Jewels of Hope’ (JoH) that had been started under ‘Love in Action Lesotho’ (LiAL), so Daniel was taken into the program in 2006. When Graeme became a trainer in May of 2008, he began to disciple and mentor Daniel (second from the left) as well as teach him how to make jewellery. With the help of LiAL and JoH, he was able to finish his high schooling and is now in his third year at college doing a course in Business Management. To raise money for transport and other necessities, he has been raising chickens, putting in to practice the business principles that he learned at JoH. He ultimately hopes that he will be able to become an accountant in the future.
In 2009, Daniel (left) became a trainer in the JoH program and now successfully leads a group of five children seeking to disciple and mentor them as well as teach them how to make jewellery.
Benefits of Fair Trade
In May of 2014, Daniel (left) was one of eight graduates from the LiAL project to be trained in the making of paper beads. The organization ‘Jewels of Hope’ based in Johannesburg will buy the beads and use them in their Fairtrade jewellery designs. This gives these young people a means of earning an income to assist them as they continue their studies. This is just one of many examples where buying Fair Trade products makes a difference to a children and a community.