Friday, March 21, 2014

Why a Moderate is Conflicted

Hi guys I'm back!

In the past few weeks I have been plagued with the misconceptions regarding fair trade.
Opposing arguments often revolve around pricing of fair trade merchandise, and the idea that any kind of work in other less developed counties is a positive thing.

A hard core fair trade enthusiast and many other humanitarian groups would say something along the lines of how it's worth the price to ensure human safety and living wages, and that simply giving jobs to the less developed countries is simply not enough.

Honestly, I think both arguments hold (at least some) truth, and I don't think it would take a brain surgeon to figure out which one I support more considering you're reading a fair trade blog.

I would first like to point out that these misconceptions and extremeness on BOTH ends of conflict epitomizes exactly why I think little is accomplished and agreed upon in society.
As much as I hate to humanize corporations and business it is silly to think that people would oppose fair wages and safety if they didn't also have some kind of reasoning behind it. Do I agree with giving unfair wages and sacrificing worker safety under these circumstances? No. But it is important to understand why business and corporations would resort to this. After all how can we human society if we don't even understand each other?

One of my personal missions is to minimize human suffering and extreme poverty. I personally will always feel a moral obligation to this and value buying fair trade. On another level I can't help but feel conflicted when taking into account the growing dominance of large corporations and the shrinking of small businesses.

Let me tell you how I feel:

I admit that sometimes fair trade merchandise IS much more expensive than other similar products. I also agree that it is, to me worth the price. The problem I see developing is not a new phenomena. In reality I don't think any business or corporation is in favor of mistreating their workers. They are trying to remain competitive in their field of business. Many small businesses wouldn't be able to compete or stay in business if not for the Free Trade Act enabling them to industrialize in foreign nations and pay less to their workers. I do want to support small businesses, at the same time I feel in a stronger and morally driven sense that American owned companies have a moral obligation to treat their workers fairly, even if their industry is out-of-country they should be giving workers fair conditions and wages based on price of living in that particular country, and no less. I feel that the fair trade symbol is becoming a marketing strategy directed at humanitarian groups, and not a necessity to businesses and corporations. Many completely fair trade organizations have expensive products not because they are paying their workers more (although that may increase the price to some degree) but because the product is ALSO organic, vegan, high quality, handmade, or supporting another group also, only further appealing to humanitarian driven consumers.  I hope I'm wrong about this but it is a worry of mine.
I won't get too far into my thinking on this topic but I often wonder why it is so expensive and challenging for businesses to achieve the fair trade goal. Sometimes when I ask small business or farm owners why they don't have a fair trade certification, even if they are or claim to have fair trade values they often respond with lack of funds, which just circles back to my original claim that small businesses are withering away and holding on by a hair- giving them reason to resort to non-fair trade values.

Here is what I hope and what we should do:

Pressure corporations and large business to get a fair trade certification based on American responsibility.
I know I ask this a thousand times from all of you, but I can not stress how important it is to talk about Fair Trade. Throw the words and ideas around, the more people know the more powerful the symbol becomes.
Write letters to corporations, make them consider Fair Trade as an important quality to consider. After all no CEO wants their company to be in the spotlight over how cruel employers they are. Oftentimes you'll get personalized responses.
And of course try to prioritize buying fair trade items over similar non-fair trade ones. If companies or suppliers feel the fair trade items are more popular, they will buy more and therefore support fair trade also.

I know this is long and I thank you guys for listening to my thoughts and concerns. I'm not saying I have all the answers, but I think this might help.
Always E-mail me with any responses, questions, or concerns.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Gift Ideas!!

Hi Everyone! Long time no read (anyone? no one? okay)

With the holidays coming up I just wanted talk about some gift ideas or options. 

The Gift That Gives Twice
Whenever I'm unsure what to get I always try to buy something fair trade or local (usually small local business's are fair trade but are not certified). I like to consider these gifts the gift that gives twice because it is benefitting someone who treats their workers well and values their workers AND is a gift for whoever is receiving the object you bought as a gift.

Some classic easy-to-find fair trade products include 
  • Soap
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Jewelry/ accessories 
Of coarse there are many other fair trade products available these are just some reoccurring products that I've noticed are more common or more abundantly fair trade. If you look you can buy a WIDE variety of fair trade products. In the past I've bought clothes, jewelry, and tons of other products fair trade.

Giving or receiving fair trade gifts are even more special to me because I know the money spent on or by me is going to a good cause. 

With Thanksgiving around the corner I have a lot to be grateful for, especially when considering some of the situations people live in with earning a dollar a day or working in grueling conditions and abiding by unfair rules and standards. My parents both have stable jobs with workers rights, because I live in a place where workers rights are valued. Although in the US, basic worker rights are assumed in the job world, I still, I consider myself lucky; if I lived in another country where workers rights were not valued, who knows how my life would differ. It is inconceivable for me to put myself in a situation in which I have never experienced and unfair for me to imagine, so I can not say exactly how my life would be different, but it is certain my lifestyle would be drastically different than it is now.

I would like to do as much as I can to support the fair trade movement by buying my holiday gifts fair trade. I would hope you guys do too! 

Fair Trade gift giving is a great option for this years holiday shopping!!


Thursday, June 20, 2013

News News News

Have you ever stopped and thought about what life would be like without the news? Commercials? Billboards? As much as I hate to admit, we are effected by media - big time.  As I walk through the halls of my school I notice many of my classmates with band named backpacks, shoes I recognized from catalogue I flipped through last month, even short lived styles of clothes celebrities start. At first I was upset at the idea that media has such a huge control over people.

But is it such a bad thing?

I started thinking, what other things do the media control? Ideas. I found that celebrities not only start trends in music, fashion, film, and countless other things, including causes.

I found a list of celebrities for fair trade on  including
Annie Lennox, Bono, Hugh Jackman, Brad Pitt, Coldplay, Matt Damon, and U2. I applaud them for using their valuable influence for this cause.

It is so important to spread the message of Fair Trade throughout communities. Media is one thing that is growing more and more into our society. Instead of pushing it away it is far more wise to move with it to spread awareness.
I encourage all of you who hopefully are reading this to use your influence whether it is within a group of friends, or a larger community of people, to spread the message. From the first day I started this blog my mission was to spread awareness about Fair Trade. Still, few people understand the reasoning as to why they should seek Fair Trade products.

Our own economy in the U.S. is suffering due to un-level playing field in global trade. Many companies who produce products find it in their best interest to open factories over seas to lower manufacturing costs.

Lets make it in their best interest produce a product Fair Trade approved.

Media is part of us, lets utilize it raise awareness, and hopefully convince people to buy more Fair Trade products.

Thanks for listening!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Back with Great News!

I know I haven't been posting for a bit....okay a really long time, but that was because I'm not going to lie: I got sidetracked. Sports, school, homework, the whole thing. What really counts is that I'm back and I'm planning on keeping up the blog more than I have been.


My great news is that Fair Trade day is coming up! World Fair Trade day is a global trade festival. That's right- FAIR TRADE DAY! It's an actual day.
It is Saturday, May 12

I understand that at one of my favorite stores ever, Ten Thousand Villages, in Red Bank, NJ, are celebrating this day from 12-4pm.

For more information visit


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Fair Trade Party!!!

Hi it's Caroline!
As you know, the purpose of this blog is to help us with our Girl Scout silver award. That said, we need a specific number of hours, (50) that need to be compleated by a deadline (by the start of high school). To say the least, we needed lots of hours, and the pressure was on. So, we are insanely lucky to have our parents helping us, and Ginger's mom came up with an idea to get us a lot of hours. What about a party? We could invite some friends, talk to them about fair trade, display fair trade products, and even make some fair trade food for them to eat.  Ginger and I split up the party planning duties, and got to work.
For the party, I made fair trade frozen chocolate and icing, while Ginger made stir-fry and some AMAZING fair trade chocolate chip cookies, and some fair trade cupcakes for the icing. Well, when I saw what my party jobs were, I thought, "Just cooking? Yeah, that's got to be easy!" I can cook basic things. Like boiling pasta. Not anything too complicated. ESPECIALLY not something that would require double boiling melted chocolate. Yeah, that frozen hot chocolate is still giving me anxiety issues, after a total cooking time of 1 1/2 hours! :)
In all, the party was a huge success, giving our friends the opprotunity to try fair trade products widely avalible in our area. We were even able to interview a few party guests about what they had learned about fair trade. Hopefully Ginger will post those videos soon (since I as always forgot my camera at home :) and you can all see the influence of just telling someone, how much you can influence the success of fair trade!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

How Aware Are We?

Hi it's Ginger!

As you may have noticed many people seem to lack awareness of Fair Trade.  I myself wasn't very aware until I went to Dominican Republic and saw all the factories from both sides (shopper and worker). 

Caroline and I took this into account when we went educating younger girls (in eliminatory school girls in girls scout troops) about Fair Trade. Before giving our lesson we gave out a True or False questionnaire of five question. They included the following.

1. Fair Trade is a charity  T   F
2. Fair Trade makes things expensive  T  F
3. Fair Trade and Organic have the same meaning   T  F
4. Fair Trade only effects people in poor places    T   F
5. When I buy something in a store it doesn't affect someone somewhere else T  F

After we went over the answers on the questionnaire i collected some of them back to see the results. Most of the girls admitted that they had guessed out of most of them and didn't really know what Fair Trade was at all. Out of the ones I took back to look at, none of the girls got 100% correct. 

I asked the girls if they had ever heard of Fair Trade and depending upon the group (usually around 15 girls per group) one or two had heard the term Fair Trade.

Thinking the results I found from the questionnaire and just asking the troops questions was because they were younger I took trying to educate youth with more lessens. 
To my surprise I was wrong about unawareness due to age.
When going to Fair Trade places and asking the workers what products were Fair Trade many of the workers did not know what it was either. Many workers didn't know which products in the store were Fair Trade or after reciting the items in stock to us they would ask what Fair Trade was. 

Considering that the goal or Fair Trade is to get people to buy Fair Trade items- it is a problem that people don't know what Fair Trade is.  I hope this blog showed you how so many people are unaware of Fair Trade. 
The only way to get people to be Fair Trade savvy is to get people to know what it is in the first place.  
It is up to us to spread awareness to everyone. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Alter Eco

Hi it's Caroline!
So, today, I'm not just writing about a product, I'm writing about a whole fair-trade COMPANY! I know, it's hard to believe that there's an entire brand dedicated to fair trade, and the products are STILL not easy to find! The brand is called Alter Eco, an it includes rice, grains, chocolate, any type of food that can be made fair trade. I mentioned one of their types of chocolate, dark chocolate almond, in one of my previous blogs about fair trade vs. non-fair trade chocolate. What makes Alter Eco different from other brands, is that they give you a sort of backstory on the product and the producer. They tell you where it's from, what cooperative, and what it was used for by the natives of that area originally. Some of the products are even organic. My mom decided to buy the pearl quinoa and the purple jasmine rice. The quinoa is grown in Bolivia, where it was originally used by the Incas, and the rie is grown is grown in Thailand, where t has traditionally been used as a staple for hundreds of years. They also show your impact on the earth right on the back. For example, the back of the jasmine rice says: 150 farmers benefit, there's a 60% increase in farmer's revenue, your purchase finances: rice mill and packing faciliy, construction of a health clinic, and social security program, and one tree is planted for every 167 packs of rice. Phew, all that, just because of one little package of rice? That takes helping the earth to a whole new level! :)

Fair Trade Quinoa