Fair Trade Brands That Support Artisans in India, Palestine, & More
Sometimes it feels like fair trade is dead.
I don’t mean that literally, as you’ll see from the recommendations in this post. But from a trend and keyword perspective, people are now much more likely to look for the term, sustainable, rather than ethical or fair trade.
There are a number of reasons for this. Taking a guess, I would say the biggest reason is growing awareness around environmental issues thanks to the climate movement. But in the U.S., it also seems negatively tied to fair trade’s historical connection to Christian mission. What I mean is that fair trade is often seen as the Evangelical social justice model, while sustainability is for everyone else.
This last assumption is not without merit. Fair trade was founded by missionaries looking for ways to improve the economic conditions of those they lived alongside in the Global South.
While missionaries are linked to imperializing practices, the fair trade movement itself has attempted to act as a corrective to the harms of colonization and imperialism. Experts in fair trade are well-aware of the nuances of such an undertaking. While not all fair trade brands are created equal in this sense, the ones I promote in this post have demonstrated cultural sensitivity.
What Fair Trade Means
Today’s fair trade movement relies on a certification model with strict expectations for the parent company. These include fair wages, continuing investment in artisan communities, ecological sustainability, and good business practices.
So, unlike sustainability, fair trade means something very specific. It is a regulated term that guarantees a basic level of ethical management. In essence, fair trade brands support artisans in a holistic way.
While I’m thrilled to see the sustainable fashion market explode, environmental efforts are very rarely paired with concern for the humans who make our clothing. With fair trade, brands and cooperatives pay attention to the health, safety, and financial wellbeing of all in their supply chain.
And this is why fair trade still matters!
Why Support Fair Trade Now?
Especially in light of the Covid-19 pandemic and severe political violence throughout much of the world, supporting fair trade means supporting makers in the countries hit hardest by ecological, physical, and political devastation. It’s not the only way to help: direct aid is always better in emergencies. But it does make a difference!
In this post, I share both fair trade certified brands, and companies that operate according to its values and are extremely transparent about their supply chain. These companies have their operations primarily in India, Cambodia, and Palestine. I have also included a few from South America and Haiti in acknowledgement of ongoing poverty and political violence.
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