October is Fair Trade Month, and as a business that supports Fair Trade practices and partners with tea growers who are Fair Trade certified, we are happy to have a month dedicated to raising awareness of this important business practice. Fair Trade businesses seek to create a more equal international trade system through increased respect and transparency. This puts an emphasis on trading fairly with businesses from developing countries. During this month, Americans are encouraged to #FindFairTrade through stores in their own communities or by purchasing through Fair Trade partners like Harney & Sons online.
In honor of Fair Trade Month, we’re resharing our 2019 blog on this topic. We hope you’ll support Fair Trade businesses not only this month but all year long.
What Is Fair Trade?
Have you ever seen the Fair Trade Certified™ logo on a box of Harney tea and wondered what it meant? It’s important to us to support fair trade practices whenever we can, and we’d like our customers to understand why.
Fair Trade USA® is a nonprofit organization and the leading certifier of fair trade products in North America, ranging from seafood to apparel to produce, offering certification for growers, factories, and fisheries around the world. Its trusted Fair Trade Certified seal on a product signifies that it was made according to rigorous fair trade standards that promote sustainable livelihoods, safe working conditions, protection of the environment, and strong, transparent supply chains.
Operating in over 45 countries including the United States, Fair Trade USA develops, implements, updates, enforces, and audits against fair trade standards that provide retailers and consumers with knowledge that these products come from farms, fisheries, and factories with high social and environmental standards. These rigorous standards, which are applied to diverse groups and sizes of farms, create sustainable livelihoods by supporting lasting, positive change in four main impact areas: income sustainability, individual and community well-being, empowerment, and environmental stewardship.
Fair Trade Is Better for Workers
Unfortunately, in many parts of the tea-growing world, the British growers started a legacy of not treating employees fairly – underpaying them and giving them only a bit of healthcare and education. Unfortunately, that legacy continues. It does not empower the workers, and to make matters worse the governmental systems and economics of the tea trade make improvements very difficult. Fair Trade is a way to assist the hardworking tea growers who make your brew possible.
From economic stability to education to empowerment, Fair Trade USA gives farmers and workers a voice and an improved livelihood. Fair Trade certification offers:
- Improved working conditions
- Transparent terms of trade
- Clear work contracts
- Premium funds for community investment
- Training on fundamental rights at work is necessary to improve their lives and plan for their futures
Fair Trade USA works with businesses by rewarding them for making responsible, ethical decisions. It is a way for businesses to strengthen their supply chains, reduce risks, increase transparency and engagement between those in the supply chain and the demands of conscious consumers. The widely recognized Fair Trade Certification seal differentiates products in the marketplace by communicating the story behind the product and igniting consumer interest.
Fair Trade Is Better for Communities
When people have the capacity to invest in better futures, the result is a healthier workforce and ultimately higher quality goods. That’s why for every Fair Trade Certified product sold, the labor force earns an additional amount of money that goes into a farm worker-controlled Community Development Fund at the origin. From there, farm workers decide together how to spend their funds to improve their lives and meet their unique social, economic, and environmental needs. The Dazhangshan Organic Tea Farmers Association in China’s Wuyuan Mountains chose to use their funds to support scholarships, buildings, and classroom materials for children in their community.
Fair Trade Is Better for Our Planet
Fair Trade certification can be a rigorous but gratifying process that solidifies social and environmental commitments. It requires businesses to comply with over 300 standards detailing working conditions, income sustainability, worker rights, and environmental protections. The logo assures consumers that they are sourcing responsibly and giving back to the farming communities of origin through the lens of environmental stewardship. For the Dazhangshan Organic Tea Farmers Association, choosing to abide by long-term organic farming practices which forbid chemical fertilizers and pesticides results in making the land healthier for the plants and the farmers as well as receiving those Community Development Funds mentioned above.
Fair Trade Is Better for Our Customers
There is a growing demand for fair trade products, particularly among millennials who are seeking high-quality products and transparency around how and where their tea is produced. Knowing that ethical environmental and workplace standards are being enforced results in a product you can be comfortable purchasing. Choosing to source and buy Fair Trade Certified tea has a real impact: according to Fair Trade USA, since 2001 more than $6.8 million in Fair Trade Premiums have been directed toward tea-producing communities, supporting projects in infrastructure development, education, health, and safety.
There are many social problems with tea that are a legacy from the past. The British set up a system to industrialize tea over 150 years ago, providing workers a small wage augmented by free housing, some educational resources, and some healthcare--a system that is very much stuck in the past where improvement rarely happens. Fair Trade represents a way to assist the hardworking people who make our delicious tea. Alex Harney, on his trip to Korakundah, India, filmed what happens at Fair Trade tea estates. They have utilized their Community Development Fund to focus on education, purchasing school buses to provide transportation for children from neighboring communities; building laboratories for pre-university level biology, chemistry, and physics; and creating scholarships for university study. They’ve also established a pension fund for retiring estate workers.
Until the logjams of the past are broken in these former British colonies, Fair Trade is one of the few ways we can show our appreciation to these long-suffering workers. Harney & Sons is proud to support Fair Trade tea farmers and their communities; in 2021, our customers purchased 96,412.556 pounds of Fair Trade tea. We hope this post has helped you understand what a huge impact your choice to support fair-trade practices has on people’s lives.
Fair Trade empowers people to make choices for themselves and their community, regardless of their position in society or position on the globe. At the end of the day, that’s something to feel prettea good about.
Give some of our Fair Trade Certified products a try: