“Best in Fair Trade” Awards Open for Nominations of Business & Nonprofits

Fair Trade Resource Network has launched “Best in Fair Trade” Awards for N. America nonprofits & businesses. The public can nominate (by March 31), and vote, for U.S. & Canada organizations doing exemplary work in Fair Trade in 5 categories:

  • Most positive change in a producer community;
  • Outstanding long-term commitment to producers;
  • Best support of the Fair Trade movement;
  • Most effective public education program;
  • Most effective advocacy for trade policy reform.

FTRN created the contest since no awards existed to honor organizations across all major Fair Trade recognitions. Winners will be celebrated during World Fair Trade Day in May!

, or , nonprofits and businesses before March 31. The public will then for any finalists during April.


A Step in the Right Direction

It’s simple to think about but harder to actually put into practice at times. I’m going for it though! I’m searching for new ways to live a Fair Trade lifestyle. It’s not about huge, crazy, radical restructuring of my life. It’s getting to that, but to put in more simpler terms, it’s about choosing differently about how I’m going to spend my money. Today, it’s about Flip Flops.

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We recently invited a group of students over to our house for an evening Christmas party. We were going to play the secret santa game, read some stories, and have dessert and hot coco. I noticed we didn’t have any hot coco in the house so I decided to run to the store to get some before the party. Because of the time I went to the closest store, our local Safeway. I knew our Safeway sold Fair Trade coffee and was hoping I would have some luck with coco as well. But this was not the case. Instead, there were 5 basic brands, the likes of which I’m sure are found in most grocery stores. There was the Safeway brand, which I must say I do not know anything about. The “local” Ghiradelli chocolate brand (local only because I live just north of San Francisco).  The flavored Starbucks brand. And the Hershey and Nestle brand. There were no Fair Trade offerings for hot chocolate at this Safeway.

So which one to buy in the pinch. Like I said, I didn’t know anything about the Safeway brand so I chose to leave that one on the shelf. When it comes to Hersey’s and Nestle I can no longer bring myself to buy any products put out by these two manufacturers. Both Hershey’s and Nestle get a D+/D grade on the app and Hershey’s is said to be the rest of the cocoa industry when it comes to supply chain transparency.  That left me with Ghiradelli and Starbucks. Ghiradelli gets a C- grade from Free2Work and Starbucks is not on the list. I know Starbucks does have 2 Fair Trade labels in their lineup of coffee so I thought they might be the better choice for the time being. So I did it, I bought the Starbucks brand Hot Chocolate but I left feeling unsatisfied.

The bottom line is that I now need to find where I can buy Fair Trade Certified Hot Chocolate here in my town. I have two options, and . Both of these markets sell a wide range of Fair Trade goods and I am confident I will be able to find what I am looking for there.

Is it really that big of a deal though? We’re talking about hot chocolate here… The problem for me is that once I am aware  that the products I use could have been produced by slave or child labor, I feel a responsibility to choose a different product. And in doing so, I feel empowered. I can choose something different. I can show what I believe in by what I choose to buy.

I’m stepping out to try something new. I’ve had a strong urge over the past 6 months or so to do what I could to promote the use and awareness of Fair Trade goods to the everyday consumer. Last April I began my journey of discovering what Fair Trade was all about. After an event on social justice I met a couple who were starting a committee to make our town a Fair Trade Town (part of ). My wife and I joined the committee and in September of that year Healdsburg was recognized as a Fair Trade Town. I have learned so much in these past months and I want to pass that knowledge on to others. In addition, I have a vision of encouraging the growth of a new community; a community of conscientious consumers. It is said that “Every Purchase Matters” and I am a firm believer in this way of living.

So how do we make fair trade a part of our everyday lives? Where can we find fair trade?  What does it mean for a product to be fair trade certified? Is this just a fad or a marketing scheme? Should we purchase whatever we desire or do we have a responsibility to know where the products we buy come from? Does this take the place of “buying local”? Do our purchases really have an impact on communities and persons in another part of the world?

These questions, as well as others, shall be the topic of this blog. I intend this to be a place to get information, gain knowledge and share your experiences with fair trade. I am still learning and finding ways to adjust my lifestyle to be a more ethical and conscientious consumer. I hope you will join me on this journey and discover for yourself why “Every Purchase Matters”.