Fair Trade Myths Debunked
Believe it or not, 'Fair Trade' and the ethics behind the label, all started in 1946 when a company called Ten Thousand Villages (yes, the same Ten Thousand Villages, you know and love today), began buying needlework pieces from communities with low access to economic development. Since then, hundreds of thousands of shops around the world have launched with a similar mission to provide economic opportunity and support artisan craft around the globe.
While fair trade has existed long before the ethical industry that is so popular today, many myths of the quality, cost, and appearance of fair trade items left some consumers not completely sold on the mission alone. Today we're debunking some of those common misconceptions to show that fair trade not only provides great economic advancement to artisans, but also quality ethically-crafted items to the consumer.
Myth #1: Fair Trade Items are always more expensive and poorer quality than factory made items.
By definition, the price of any fair trade item includes a livable, human wage for producers. Often, this does mean that fair trade products carry a higher price tag than their sweatshop equivalents. But that's certainly not always the case. Lots of ethical brands have moved into the mainstream and have improved their buying power and efficiency. Scaling up means we're much more cost-efficient and able to offer competitive pricing without compromising fair wages.
When it comes to responsible shopping, we also urge consumers to consider the superior quality of hand-made artisan products before being deterred by the price tag.
Myth #2: Fair Trade only applies to food such as coffee or chocolate.
Thanks to a recent boom in conscisous shopping (Go you!), you can find a fairly traded version of almost any consumer item thses days. From clothing to home décor, children's toys and everything in between, there's a fair trade option availble.
Techinally, any item sold that ensures the rights of workers can claim to be Fair Trade. This of course extends way beyond chocolate and your favorite fair trade Starbucks brew.
Myth #3: Fair Trade is Charity
Fair trade is about providing dignified employment and paying a fair wage in return for a service or product. In our view, it's much more meaningful than charity and here's why. First, unlike charity, we work to establish equitable realtionships where the artisans' skills are recognized, respected and compensated. Charity implies an unfair power dynamic – and that's exactly what we're working to change.
Second, as for-profit companies, ethical brands are able to continually reinvest their profits back into their fair trade relationships. This means long-term partnerships and the possibility of real, sustainable change.
Myth #4: "Give Back" or "One for One" Mean Ethically Made
Conscious consumers must take caution when purchasing from "give-back" brands. Just because a brand's mission is to give back to certain organization or mission, does not mean that the items they sell to generate those donations are ethically made. For example, a t-shirt company that donates a percentage of their profits to a non-profit organization can still source their t-shirts from sweatshops in China. In another case, a glasses company who promises to provide a pair of glasses to a child in need for every pair purchased, can still produce their glasses in unsafe factories that don't pay their laborers fair wages. With a bit more research in the product, we can ensure that we are supporting brands who are both ethical and give back!
We hope that by debunking this common Fair Trade myths you leave this post feeling both informed and empowered to use your purchasing power to create a great lasting impact on artisans around the globe. Visit Acacia Creations and Creative Women to find fair trade items made by hand around the globe.