What Really is Fair Trade?

By Kelsey Hilton, Account Executive

October marks the ninth annual celebration of Fair Trade Month.

We hear about “going green” constantly in the media and reasons why we should be more sustainable from plenty of celebrities. But what really is fair trade?

According to Fair Trade USA, it means, “quality products, improving lives and protecting the planet,” or in just one word, “fair.”
I never heard of fair trade products or buying fair trade until I came to Chico my freshman year. I enjoyed my first piece of fair trade chocolate, not fully understanding what it meant or what it stood for.

I soon after learned the importance of buying fair trade and what it means to truly be sustainable.

Fair trade is an organized social movement with the purpose of bettering trading conditions and promoting sustainability.

Fair Trade USA certifies that producers conform to labor and environmental standards, linking farmers directly to companies and cutting out the middleman. Ultimately, fair trade is about justly compensating farmers and workers and strongly advocates for higher social and environmental standards.

Last semester, I worked as an intern for the Sustainability Collaborative program on campus, where I was able to expand my knowledge on sustainable practices, and even learned how to build my own compost.

This semester, as an intern for the Chico Peace & Justice Center I am helping the organization with its fair trade store which sells fair trade certified products to the community throughout the holidays.

Both of these experiences have introduced me to a new way of life. I now find myself scolding my parents for buying plastic water bottles, and I encourage them to buy local produce and use reusable shopping bags. 

Last year, Yahoo listed Chico State as one of the top five “green” colleges in America and was also included in Princeton Review’s 2013 “Green Honor Roll,” acknowledging “environmentally friendly” institutions, receiving the highest possible score.

When we choose to buy fair trade certified products, the lives of many farmers and workers are improved. It is not only a step toward a more sustainable life for you and for the planet, but also promotes fairness and equality for farmers and workers.

           It is never too late to start engaging in sustainable practices and applying them to your everyday life.

           Here are some easy ways to celebrate Fair Trade Month this October.

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