LOHAS shoppers powerfully and naturally embrace the values of health and sustainability. But those life-affirming values are the only ones that inspire them. They also care deeply about social justice, the defining ideal of the expanding Fair Trade movement.
Fair Trade (FT) challenges one of the most basic assumptions of free enterprise--that buyers will always seek the lowest, or “free trade” price. “No, thanks,” reply FT advocates. “We choose instead to pay a ‘fair’ price so that producers receive a living wage.”
FT shoppers refuse to support a system where farmers with no bargaining power cannot negotiate the prices they need to survive and to invest in their businesses or communities. Fair Trader might also consider that farmers faced with such an untenable system may turn to growing drug crops for needed revenue, thus destabilizing communities from the poppy fields in Asia to cities all across the Americas to the streets of Amsterdam.
“The roots of Fair Trade are in coffee, but the model can be applied to many more categories, and in recent years the list of certified products has expanded dramatically,” says Paul Rice, President and CEO of Fair Trade USA, one of the world’s two largest certifiers of FT products. “Fair Trade empowers consumers to make a difference. With every cup of coffee, every bar of chocolate and every banana, we can actually lift people out of poverty and help preserve the land.”
Carolyn Long of Chevy Chase, Maryland, starts her day with a ritual of mindful reflection, global responsibility, and the aromatic scent of FT-sourced Ethiopian light-roast coffee. “It means a lot to know my choice is making a difference in the lives of farmers,” says Carolyn, who also enjoys Chocolove organic FT chocolate bars.
Carolyn would buy more FT products if she knew where to find them. A recent survey revealed that 62 percent of consumers feel the same way. Today, Fair Trade USA’s “Fair Trade Finder” mobile applications for iPhone and Android deliver a national directory of FT-certified products. Fair Trade fans can tag their favorite products and share their locations with others.
Today millions of FT fans promote the self-sufficiency of 1.2 million farmers and workers in 70 countries throughout Asia, Latin America, Oceania, the Caribbean, and Africa. Fair Trade shoppers have translated the value of social justice into a $4.5 billion global movement. In 2012, Fair Trade USA estimated total US Fair Trade sales alone at $1.2 billion.
The efforts of FT shoppers are transforming the marketplace. More than 60,000 U.S. locations sell some 10,000 FT products, such as tea, sugar, fruit, chocolate, and soccer balls. And new FT products regularly appear on the shelves. Today, South Africa exports FT wine and the Palestinian West Bank exports FT olive oil. You can find FT vodka and FT-mined gold.
Look for the FT label whenever you shop:
• Buy FT bananas, rice, and body care at Whole Foods.
• Find FT flowers at the local Giant supermarket.
• Pick up Ben & Jerry’s diverse array of FT ice-cream flavors anywhere.
• Dagoba chocolate, made with FT-certified cacao, is widely available.
• Get your Kirkland Signature FT coffee at Costco.
• Buy FT wine at Sam’s Club, Target, or Whole Foods.
• You’ll also find FT products at Wal-Mart, Wegman’s, Trader Joe’s, and Kroger.
The FT Java Trade
The most ubiquitous FT product, however, is coffee. Fair Trade USA certifies more than 100 million pounds of FT coffee each year. More than half of FT coffee is also organic. At least 30 percent of the beans purchased by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters are FT-certified. Starbucks began buying FT coffee in 2000 and played a critical role in building the U.S. FT coffee market. Dunkin’ Donuts was the first national brand to sell espresso drinks made exclusively of FT beans. Peet’s Coffee, Allegro, Sumptown Coffee, Sustainable Harvest, and Crop to Cup are respected for their high standards and direct relationships with coffee growers. “The choices we make at the supermarket and café impact millions of people around the world,” says Dean Cycon, founder of Dean’s Beans, which sells 500,000 pounds of FT organic coffee each year.
“Social change consumers” spend $45 billion a year, says eBay’s Robert Chatwani, who helped build the website of Good World Solutions (GWS), which works with 30,000 artisans globally. GWS’s web-based Fair Wage Guide, consulted by 900 companies in 81 countries, calculates the wages craftspeople need to support themselves and their communities. “Our technology gives workers a voice,” says GWS director Heather Franzese.
Ten Thousand Villages supports tens of thousands of artisans; its 256 stores sell “eclectic village wares” from more than 30 countries. Every FT purchase is a values statement. Fair Trade handicrafts remind us that each object is filled with the craftsperson’s soul and character.
As Buckminster Fuller, the great American engineer, inventor, and futurist, said: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality . . . [instead] build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” That’s exactly what the Fair Trade movement—from farmers and certifiers to consumers—is well along the way toward achieving.
Patricia Aburdene is one of the world’s leading social forecasters and an internationally-renown speaker. She co-authored the New York Times number one bestseller Megatrends 2000. Her book Megatrends 2010: The Rise of Conscious Capitalism (Link for Megatrends 2010: http://www.amazon.com/Megatrends-2010-Rise-Conscious-Capitalism/dp/1571745394/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353425143&sr=1-2 ), launched a business revolution. Patricia’s new book, Conscious Money: Living, Creating, and Investing with Your Values for A Sustainable New Prosperity, was a finalist in the Green category for the “Books for a Better Life Award.” Read Chapter one of Conscious Money at http://www.beyondword.com/consciousmoney/index.html Patricia was named one of the “Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Behavior” and serves as an Ambassador of the Conscious Capitalist Institute. Patricia’s journalism career began at Forbes magazine and she was a public policy follow at Radcliffe College, Cambridge, MA. Her website is www.patriciaaburdene.com<http://www.patriciaaburdene.com>.