The news of today reported by the journalists of tomorrow

The Beacon

The news of today reported by the journalists of tomorrow

The Beacon

The news of today reported by the journalists of tomorrow

The Beacon

The 101: Fair Trade

If you are reading this in your 9 a.m. class, odds are you had a cup of coffee to even be there. OK, now did anyone think of where that coffee came from?
And I’m not talking about the shelves of Wegmans.

The origins of our coffee are not something we usually think about. In fact, we rarely are concerned with how any of our products are made. But behind every grande frozen soy hazelnut frappe-macchiato-latte that you order is someone else’s livelihood.

It is not commonly known that many of the farmers who produce those coffee beans in your drink that got 74 likes on Instagram are actually struggling to live comfortably.

Often, products in developing countries do not receive much of the profit made off of their goods.

Small business owners in the United States don’t often go to sleep at night worrying about whether or not they can afford to eat tomorrow. Why should small business owners in developing countries have to?

Luckily, there is a social movement in place to help combat this unfortunate condition: “fair trade.”

Increasingly popular for the socially and culturally concerned, fair trade simply allows the artisans or farmers in developing countries to receive a fair price for their products.

The movement also promotes sustainable farming methods and eco-friendly practices.

The whole point is to help people help themselves instead of giving them charity. This system helps lift people out of poverty and dramatically improves their lives.

The extra money made through fair trade pricing can go towards helping communities build homes and schools, and receive proper health care.

You don’t have to be a “sunflowers and tie dye” kind of person to endorse fair trade. It is not a huge alteration to your life if you do not want it to be. Just a few purchases here and there can help people in developing countries become self-sufficient.

Although coffee beans are the most common fair trade product on the market, the term also applies to clothing, beauty products, accessories, artwork, home goods and food that you can buy in specialty stores and on the Internet.
Do I hear Christmas presents? Guys- your girlfriends would love a piece of handcrafted turquoise jewelry and it makes you seem like you put a lot of effort into it. And moms dig artwork.

Fair trade products are guaranteed to be better quality than the garbage sold on Internet sites, and are often one-of-a-kind finds. Those cheap earrings that you bought from Wet Seal in the mall benefited nobody. Next time, try buying handcrafted earrings from an online fair trade store.

Fair trade goods are ethically produced with the consumer in mind. The entire process, from making to selling, is fair.

If you think you have never seen a fair trade product, you are wrong! These goods are all over the place; you just have to look a little. The products will be labeled with a “certified fair trade” sticker, though some are less obvious.

If life is too taxing for you to read labels, just check out websites like “Ten Thousand Villages,” and “Global Goods Partners.”

You can find some fair trade products right here in Wilkes-Barre at Shambala on S. Main Street. The store carries fair trade jewelry, clothing, and other select gifts and accessories.

In recent years, the movement has really picked up. American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson endorsed Green Mountain coffee at the end of September and is holding a benefit concert to promote the message of fairness in business.Starbucks has been committed to ethical sourcing and environmental sustainability since the year 2000.

Even McDonald’s has committed to fair trade coffee in many of its locations around the country. Yes, McDonalds. If McDonald’s can be ethical, you can too.

Just being aware of this concept can make a difference. The next time you are standing in the aisles of the supermarket, remember what a simple purchase can do for others.

 

Cheat Sheet:

Cooperative:

A system of makers and packers certified to sell fair trade labeled goods, kind of like a book club but far more productive.

Fair Tuesday:

Like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Fair Tuesday is a platform for positive change that hopefully is far less dangerous than the fights that break out in Best Buy. It aims to promote the movement to those who may not know what fair trade is and increase sales especially on that day.

Free market:

The free market’s basis is supply and demand. Farmers and artisans make goods to sell but only as long as they have buyers. It is not controlled by the government and there is a mutual agreement on price between buyer and seller.

Artisan:

When we talk about artisans, we’re not talking about the artisan breads at your local Domino’s Pizza. Artisans are skilled workers who make a functional or decorative craft, such as furniture, sculptures, clothing or tools. They must have a certain amount of experience or skill.

GMO:

You’ve probably heard of the term “genetically-modified organism” before. This is just a reminder that those are bad news. Fair trade product certification prohibits the use of genetically modified organisms to guarantee getting the most environmentally sustainable products on the market.

Fair trade university or college:

Not us. Fair trade universities or colleges are schools committed to the fair trade movement. They build awareness on campus and make sure that fair trade options are available for students and faculty on campus. I wish with everything that I have that we could someday support this cause.

About the Contributor
Carly Yamrus
Carly Yamrus, Opinion Editor
Carly is a senior Communications Studies major with concentrations in public relations and rhetoric and a minor in marketing. Carly has completed internships with Motor Media, a boutique branding and marketing company, and the City of Wilkes-Barre. This past summer, she worked for Verizon selling phone Internet and television services to businesses in North Jersey. Carly has had over 2 year experience writing and editing for The Beacon as the Opinion Editor, and has now stepped aside in her last semester to help others learn the position. She now serves as a Senior Editor. Carly also enjoys the arts, snowboarding and writing, and is looking forward to traveling and volunteering abroad in the future.