We’ve all heard the term “Fair Trade”, but so many questions circle the concept.   Am I getting a fair price for my goods?  Are the goods produced to the quality standards I expect?  Am I really just giving my money to charity?

In her latest article in the Greenville News, our own Beth Templeton clarifies that Fair Trade is really about justice, not charity.  (View the full article here).  Beth explains, “When we buy fair trade items, we are not giving charity.  We are empowering people in profound ways to create sustainable and positive change”.  The concept sounds so familiar to our vision at United Ministries to aid families in their progress toward stabilization and encourage people to take steps that help them meet their needs  in healthy and edifying ways.  It’s like the old saying, “A hand up, not a handout“.

Fair Trade is simply “a system of exchange that seeks to create greater equity and partnership in international trading”.   Under- and unemployed workers gain an opportunity to earn vital income and improve their quality of life, and all of it is strictly governed by organizations such as the Fair Trade Federation and “FINE”, a collaboration of the four main Fair Trade Networks:

F      Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International

     International Fair Trade Association

N     Network of European Worldshops

E     European Fair Trade association

Primary industries affected by the movement towards fair trade include handicrafts, coffee, cocoa, sugar, tea, bananas, honey, cotton, wine, fresh fruit, chocolate, flowers, and gold.  With a few wise purchases in any of these industries, we can make a big difference in the lives of the estimated 1.4 billion people in the world existing on less than $1.25 / day (statistics from Bread for World).  It certainly made me re-think the sugar I used this morning for my $4 latte. 

To get started, check out the Greenville store Ten Thousand Villages.   Selling only fair-trade products, their selection is unique, surprising, and vast.