Coffee Plant

October is National Fair Trade Month and this year’s theme is “Count Me In,” with shoppers being encouraged to take the Fair Trade Month pledge. So, the question is, how can you as the consumer, help the Fair Trade movement?

What is Fair Trade?

Fair Trade is a market-based social movement created to help producers in developing countries make better trading conditions and promote sustainability. It advocates the payment of a higher price to exporters and higher social and environmental standards.

“Creating big impact for farmers and their families is easy,” said Mary Jo Cook, Chief Impact Officer for Fair Trade USA, in a press release. “If consumers simply swap one item on their shopping list with a fair trade certified item, they’ll enjoy quality products while helping others.”

If you have trouble finding Fair Trade products in your area, check the Fair Trade Resource Network for participating retail locations. Switching just one product you buy regularly to a Fair Trade certified product is a great way to vote with your wallet. The most prevalent Fair Trade certified product is coffee, with more than 138 million pounds imported to the U.S. in 2011.

Other Fair Trade Products Available in the U.S.:

  • bananas
  • tea
  • honey
  • oranges
  • chocolate
  • fruits and vegetables
  • nuts and seeds
  • quinoa
  • rice
  • spices
  • sugar
  • wine

Throughout the month of October, companies and celebrities will be celebrating Fair Trade Month; highlights include:

  • Celebrity Ambassadors: Green Mountain Coffee’s Great Coffee, Good Vibes, Pass It On campaign features musicians Grace Potter and Michael Franti.
  • In-Store Promotions: More than 100 Whole Foods Market stores will feature Fair Trade sampling events throughout the month.
  • Farmer Connections: Fair Trade USA and partner brands will use social media to tell the story of the farmers and workers that benefit from Fair Trade. Join the conversation at Facebook.com/FairTradeCertified.
  • Grassroots Events: Fair Trade supporters will share experiences and resources to strengthen grassroots momentum for Fair Trade at the second Fair Trade Campaigns Conference in Chicago from Oct. 26-28.  Local organizers will focus on increasing availability and sales of Fair Trade Certified bananas in their communities with the Go Bananas! campaign.
  • Social Media Sampling: Fair Trade USA has partnered with Klout to offer social media influencers in related topics sample boxes of Fair Trade Certified products.

Buying organic and buying sustainably go hand-in-hand with buying Fair Trade products. While buying Fair Trade products is contrary to buying local, there are benefits to both. Fair Trade promotes sustainable farming in developing countries, the primary exporters of some products like coffee. So, this month, you can choose support Fair Trade through the free market system: vote with your wallet.

 Image: stickymex