In times of economic difficulty, when money is tighter than usual, we always look for a good deal, whether it’s for our home and car insurance, if it’s the best interest rate on a savings account or if it’s for a good deal on food and beverages.
But how do we balance getting a good deal with the idea of fair trade? Are fair trade products worth it?
Let’s be honest, fair trade products don’t usually come in the 2-for-1 section and perhaps we have become a little bit too aware of ourselves, perhaps we wait to pick the fair trade products off the shelf when no one else is looking in case they perceive us to be too hippyish.
Yet fair trade is a fair deal. We must learn to look beyond the continuous deal-saving adverts thrown at us from every angle from so many aspects of our lives. We must stop believing the hype. Fair trade is more than helping a poverty-stricken family from the other side of the world, whose language and culture we don’t understand. It’s more than doing a bit of good so that we can go home to our excessively materialistic lives feeling like we’ve contributed to the advancement of mankind. It’s more than caving in to the charities and the do-gooders.
It is, simply put, the right thing to do.
Martin Luther King Jr once said: “by the time we finished eating breakfast, we relied on half the world”. The problem is that half the time, we are too busy getting to work or the kid to school, to notice these things.
Without the “other half”, we wouldn’t be where we are now, we would be unable to do the things that we do, even the things we consider a time-out, like computer games or a board game, these are all put together by the other half. And we exploit the other half, most of the time not even intentionally or consciously. We go to stores and complain that the T-shirt or jacket we want is just that little bit beyond our price range.
Sometimes we go so far as to think that the companies are being greedy and ripping us off. After all, isn’t some kid on the other side of the world making this item of clothing for a few pennies? Well, we’re right. An unknown number of children get up before dawn, walk miles along dangerous roads, to be herded into large buildings and put to work in horrendous conditions for very little money. They don’t get an education, play sports or get the chance to build a life for themselves that they deserve.
So Fair Trade products are a way of ensuring that a better amount of money goes to the workers, that the conditions they work in aren’t as awful and risky as they are used to and most importantly, it’s a step in the right direction in terms of reducing the exploitation of the people on the other side of the world.
After all, they create a vast majority of things in our lives that we take for granted. So maybe, in times of our economic difficulties, we should remember that our lot in life is rarely as hard as the other half.
Dear Mr. Eigener,Reply
well written. I would, however, be interested in your thoughts on whether the extra revenue created by selling fair trade products actually finds its way to improving worker conditions in the countries where the items are produced?