When you visit my web site, do you ever notice the logo on the left? You might pass over it without much thought and move on to the joy of shopping.
But behind that logo is a guarantee that my business has passed a rigorous screening process that ensures it’s in full compliance with the 9 fair trade principles and the Fair Trade Federation Code of Practice. It “represents membership in a network of organizations that have demonstrated a deep and lasting commitment to fair trade practices.” 1
What did that screening process involve? On my initial 17-page application for membership 3 years ago, I had to answer almost 60 questions about how my business practices fulfill all the principles of fair trade. A few examples:
- How do I decide which suppliers to work with?
- What questions do I ask suppliers to assure they practice fair trade principles and what answers are acceptable to me?
- What do I do to promote fair trade (e.g.,public education, raising awareness)?
- How do I share artisans’ stories with customers?
- How do my suppliers specifically determine fair compensation for their artisans?
- What proof do my suppliers give that they provide safe and healthy work places for artisans and that child labor is never used?
- How do I practice environmental sustainability in my day-to-day operations?
I also submitted a financial statement, three references to attest to the nature of my work, a list of suppliers and their own fair trade certifications and affiliations, and supplemental materials such as brochures, product description cards, and articles I’ve written about fair trade.
Whew! And that’s barely scratching the surface. To renew my membership each year, there’s a similar, though abbreviated, procedure.
What’s the point of this very thorough verification process? It’s to ensure that member businesses practice 360° fair trade.
360° fair trade means our businesses must be socially, economically, and environmentally responsible in everything we do, from larger issues like assuring living wages for artisans to the more mundane like using eco-friendly packaging materials for our products.
360° fair trade goes beyond good pay to create positive change. It fosters long-term, holistic relationships that empower farmers and artisans to grow their businesses and support their communities.
Being a member of the Fair Trade Federation is a partnership based on trust, not only among retailers, suppliers, and artisans, but also for you the consumer. When you see the Fair Trade Federation Member logo you can trust you’re buying the highest quality products handcrafted by artisans whose lives are made better with each purchase you make.