Going Beyond Fair Trade
We live in a very global world. The item you just purchased at your local store likely was made with materials sourced from one or more foreign countries. Globalization has had some positive impacts. But it has also had some negative ones.
The ever increasing free market and competition for lower prices has led to long, complex supply chains; making it difficult to trace where the products we buy come from. But every once in a while, a news story will feature child slaves in cocoa bean fields or gold mines in Africa, garment factory fires killing hundreds or sweatshop workers committing suicide in Asia. And then we pause to think about what we buy.
Our country fought a civil war over slavery and it has been illegal around the world for some time, but slavery still exists in secret. Unions fought to eliminate dangerous work conditions and sweatshops here in the U.S. But they still exist in many of the countries who manufacture the products we buy. So how can you make a difference? Read on.
If you are anything like me and you followed the links above, you probably felt depressed that such things are still happening in the world Or maybe you felt guilty for having purchased products tainted by slavery or forced labor. Perhaps you feel helpless to make a difference for people so far away.
Like many Christians, I give extra money to faith-based charity organizations that help fight poverty and show God's love around the world. Organizations like World Vision, Compassion, The Mennonite Central Committee and Samaritan's Purse are making a genuine difference in fighting poverty, the root cause of the problems mentioned above. But what if you could make a difference not only by where you sent your extra income, but also through your everyday purchases?
It was just that question which led to this website. It was also that question which helped launch a global movement called "Fair Trade" over 60 years ago. (Two of the pioneer organizations of this movement, Ten Thousand Villages and Serrv, you will find promoted on this website.) Fair Trade seeks to make a difference by giving those suffering from poverty and exploitation in developing countries "a hand up, not just a hand out". Through job training, education, and providing a direct market for their goods; Fair Trade offers those who were formerly trapped in poverty freedom and hope. And Fair Trade offers consumers like us here in the U.S. a chance to buy products we can feel good about, knowing we are helping, rather than exploiting those who make what we purchase.
The Fair Trade movement has grown rapidly over the past couple of decades. Many different Fair Trade certification programs have sprung up and some of these have come under attack for not making as much of a difference as they claim. Fair Trade coffee in particular, the most well-known Fair Trade product, has come under scrutiny. That being said, Fair Trade certified coffee is most often better than the alternatives. Many of the organizations listed on this website are certified through the Fair Trade Federation, whose excellent values can be read here.
Above and Beyond
But the organizations you can shop from through the easy links provided on this website, were chosen because they go even beyond Fair Trade. Whether or not they bear a certification label, they are operating true to the original heart of the Fair Trade movement and genuinely making a difference. These organizations are lifting people out of poverty and trafficking and providing good jobs in countries where workers are frequently exploited. Many of these organizations are also faith-based, so by purchasing through them you can join with them in showing God's love and making a difference in a tangible way!
Welcome to a totally different kind of shopping. There has been a recent movement in the U.S. to "Buy Local". And buying local is great. You get to see exactly where your money is going, who made the product you are buying and form personal relationships with local artists and farmers. I support buying local, but I also support buying "glocal." That is what this website is all about. Instead of long supply chains, the organizations you will find here form direct relationships with the people who make the products they sell. That is why your purchase has the most impact. Plus, that kind of transparency means you can read the stories about the artisans or farmers behind the item you just bought. In many cases, you can even write to them yourself and make your purchase very personal. Plus, buying "glocal" creates better jobs in the countries where they are most desperately needed and helps combat the negative side of globalization.
So will you join me and also spread the word and then together we can change the world by how we shop!
"And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?"
Micah 6:8 (NKJV)
"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy."
Proverbs 31: 8-9 (NIV)