Thursday, May 03, 2007,5:33 PM
Why Buy Fair Trade
Over at the Justice and Compassion blog Benjamin gave a good perspective on why buying Fairly Traded food is a good thing. He recently placed an order for Fairly Traded sugar and wrote this -
I was feeling a little guilty, because this sugar costs 4 times “normal” sugar, and we are not exactly in brilliant financial straits at this time. My friend Karl (a Mennonite, interestingly), encouraged me in this. He said that I am simply assuming the full fair price of the sugar, instead of outsourcing that full cost to someone else who is actually a lot worse off than me financially.

When we sustain our lifestyle by hurting others we are not saving anything. It is hard sometimes to see that our purchases are not just isolated events - there is a whole chains of events, people, and environments that they affect as well. Its not just about us.


posted by Julie at 5:33 PM ¤ Permalink ¤


  • At 5/04/2007 01:01:00 AM, Blogger Greg

    Thanks Julie for this post. Really important to reflect and act on - sustaining one thing can often lead to debilitating something or someone else. It's so easy, especially nowadays, to be infected with the disease of a shopping spirituality that is driven by marketers and their worldview, rather than seriously considering the other and the connection of our spending to a bigger picture.

  • At 5/04/2007 09:52:00 AM, Blogger Kay

    Good point. I wish I could figure out how to do the same thing with clothes. Where to buy clothes that were not made with slave labor or that were not subsidized in some way... Sigh.

  • At 5/04/2007 08:54:00 PM, Blogger Scott James

    Social Justice does not always have to cost more when applied to consumer goods. We price our Fair Trade soccer balls equal with our competitors products at the same quality level.

    How can we do this and still pay certified Fair Trade wages? We don't have multi-million dollar marketing budgets to support.

    Instead, we rely on positive word of mouth (and lots of folks posting on their blogs about us).


    - Scott James
    Fair Trade Sports

  • At 5/05/2007 09:50:00 AM, Blogger Julie

    Scott - thanks for letting us know about the site.

    I think the money thing does come down to a matter of perspective. There are a lot of people for whom it is totally normal to pay $9-11 for a half pound of coffee - switching to Fair Trade is no financial issue for them. Its the $4 gallon of folger's buyers that have the issues. And the people that pay for expensive clothes are more likely to be buying clothes not made in sweat shops anyway - its the off the rack Walmart shoppers that are doing that. The Fair Trade sports stuff looks great - and I'm sure the prices are equal with competitors for that quality of stuff - I just can't imagine spending that much on a soccer ball - ever.

    so I guess that is where the struggle comes in. To convince us middle americans that paying for fairness, justice, sustainability and quality is a moral issue (and not just selfish luxury living).

  • At 5/05/2007 11:04:00 PM, Blogger Benjamin Ady


    When I saw you commnent I thought ooh, ooh, ooh, I know the answer (like a kid in sunday school--"call on me, call on me!")

    You should check out Joe's Freedom Clothing Project He's got fair trade clothing in his online shop, and he's really kewl, and fun to talk to too. We're planning to do a post on his stuff over at pretty soon.

  • At 5/07/2007 09:25:00 PM, Blogger Scott James

    I hear you, Julie. Your coffee analogy is accurate.

    I specifically built our product line not to compete with a $10 low-quality soccer ball from Wal-Mart, nor the $120 high-end soccer ball used at the World Cup (and now on the fields of most college campuses).

    We're going after the bulk of soccer ball sales in the US which is the $30 - $85 range.

    Thank you for checking out our site; glad you think the stuff looks good!

    - Scott James
    Fair Trade Sports


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