We are consistently amazed by new fair trade products emerging in the marketplace, like fair trade spirits distilled from quinoa, fair trade tuna, or even fair trade underwear. Over the past few years, the fair trade landscape has changed dramatically, and it is an exciting time in the fair trade movement!
Navigating Fair Trade Labels
There are a flurry of fair trade labels, certifications, and membership groups. It can be difficult to navigate them all, even for the most conscious consumers. As an ethical consumer, you most likely want to buy things as fairly traded and sustainable as possible. Most of us know to look for the Fair Trade USA, Fairtrade International, or Fair for Life logo on product labels. These certifications work well for commodities coffee or a chocolate, but what about jewelry, paper goods, or home decor? You won’t find fair trade certification logos on most of the products we consume on a regular basis, but there are fairly traded versions of nearly every product category.
The Difference Between Fair Trade Certifications and Membership Groups
Currently, fair trade certification refers almost exclusively to commodities that are grown like cotton or cacao, and can be monitored at the farm level. Memberships groups like the Fair Trade Federation or World Fair Trade Organization include companies that are also committed to the principles of fair trade, but may not produce commodities. For example, a pair of earrings or a greeting card identified as fair trade is not fair trade “certified” because there are not yet systems in place to monitor the entire supply chain for handcrafted goods. However, if the business is part of a fair trade member organization, we can trust that farmers and producers are empowered and that their pay is fair.
SOME FAVORITE FAIR TRADE PRODUCTS & COMPANIES
Through work with Fair Trade Winds, we have connected with so many amazingly committed brands that uplift artisans around the world. Their products don’t have a fair trade certified logo on them, but they are handcrafted as fairly and justly as possible. Here are a few of our favorite fair trade companies that carry a variety of product categories.
1. Swahili African Modern
Building relationships with talented artisans for over 20 years, Swahili African Modern is dedicated to helping people in Africa develop professionally and personally. Their unique line of products includes décor, woven baskets, practical housewares, and one-of-a-kind art pieces. Each piece is handmade using sustainable or recycled materials, like their super functional baskets made from sustainable cattail stalks and salvaged plastic in Senegal.
With decades of work building relationships with artisans around the world, Serrv is regarded as a leader in the fair trade movement. Their emphasis on creating collaborative partnerships is the key to their success across a broad range of product categories, including kitchenware, jewelry and accessories, clothing, and home décor. Since the recent devastating earthquake in Nepal, Serrv has increased their efforts in order to help the artisans rebuild their homes, workshops, and communities. Their work in Nepal exemplifies the importance of fair trade demonstrates the positive impact of dedicated long-term relationships. The abstract Banana Leaf Earrings are skillfully made in Nepal from hand-cut brass.
Banana Leaf Earrings | $38
3. Global Mamas
Working with women in Ghana, Global Mamas creates quality batik textiles, clothing, fashion accessories, and beauty products. Through an innovative training program of women teaching women, Global Mamas gives artisans the opportunity to become sustainable entrepreneurs, empowering their communities and investing in their futures. Each “Mama” is proud to be an independent woman, using their skills to create beautiful products like their Reversible Apron featuring a fun silverware batik pattern on one side and recycled flour sack material on the reverse.
Reversible Batik Apron | $26
4. Jubilee Traders
Jubilee Traders works with artisans in Sanganer, India to create beautiful table linens in striking, bold patterns. Committed to the tradition of block printing, Jubilee Traders helps to promote and progress the artisans’ craft and provide a much-needed steady income.
Sobremesa’s distinct tabletop collection brings your table to life! Sobremesa envisions a world where changing people’s lives and enjoying life go hand in hand. Their handcrafted collection lends a personal touch to the table, embodying the phrase “eat local, think global” in a very real way. Their selection of hand-blown glassware is both elegant and functional, crafted by artisans in Guatemala from pieces of recycled glass.
Hand Blown Water Glass | $16.95
Written by Sarah Culler of Fair Trade Winds
Fair Trade Winds is a family owned and operated independent fair trade store. The company has seven stores across the country that carry a variety of practical fair trade gifts that are handmade by talented artisans from around the world. Their online shop also features unique, sustainable products from over fair trade producer groups worldwide.