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.
When you buy Fair Trade products you only spend a little bit of extra money on those products. But that little bit of extra money that guarantees a fair wage to the artisan or craftspeople who make those items adds up to massive amounts of money that is used to fund huge change. More than 4 billion dollars are spent on Fair Trade products yearly.
That’s because the premiums that you pay on Fair Trade items go directly to the person that made the product, not to the shareholders of some giant global corporation. Your money is not paying for some executive’s private jet or fancy home. It’s putting food on the table for the family of a craftsman. It’s funding a public school in a developing community. It’s giving a woman the money she needs to leave her abusive husband and feed her children. It’s promoting growth and independence in communities around the world. It’s also helping the environment. The crafters and artists who create these products are not pouring chemicals into river or creating massive environmental damage with huge factories. They are using locally made and sustainably produced materials to create beautiful fairtrade products that are very high quality and will last.
It changes communities
Buying Fair Trade also changes the way that communities are run. When a small business prospers because of the program that money and success impact the entire community. That one small business that is supported by the purchases that you and people like you make will provide employment for local workers, money for the local community to use for health care, education, and streamlined services like water and sanitation. These small businesses will also be able to mentor other small business owners and teach those business owners the skills they have learned from the Fairtrade program. When small businesses thrive the community thrives. When these communities thrive the country thrives. When the country thrives and contributes to the global economy other countries thrive. Fair Trade is the heart of a new type of consumerism – consumerism that cares.
Are you a thoughtful consumer?
The global recession rocked many countries, and many of them are still trying to recover. But the recession also made people realize how interconnected people are with each other, with other communities, and with other countries. These days consumers are more thoughtful about what they buy and really want to know that their purchases have meaning because. When you buy ethically produced products for fair prices you are helping other people just like you to follow their dreams and help their communities. Together everyone can build a stronger economy and a brighter future.
Benefits of Fair Trade Products
It can be a challenge to find the extra money for Fair Trade clothing and products if you are on a tight budget. Sometimes it may seem like it’s just easier to buy the items you need from discount stores. But you can choose to support it, even on a limited budget. With a little planning and a little ingenuity you can find ways to stick to your budget and still only buy certified items. The higher quality of these items means they will last longer, so a little extra money spent now means that you won’t have to replace the item in a few months and spend even more money. Think of the long term benefits of shopping for these items instead of the short term loss of money. The sacrifice of paying a slightly higher price up front for well-made ethically produced items is worth it when you remember what you are a part of when you buy these handcrafted sustainably produced items.