Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day 2008

This is my first time participating in Blog Action Day. This year's topic is poverty, and I decided to educate myself more on the issue of Fair Trade Products. I couldn't get this up yesterday because my internet was down, so a day late, here it is:
The major fair trade industry, in which the fair trade product is only a little more expensive than the conventional, is coffee. I don't drink coffee, so this has always been a nonissue for me.
Fair trade coffee supports local farming coops and helps eliminate the middleman. Fair trade other-products achieve the same thing (including in your cosmetics). Ultimately, you pay very little more and the people on the other end of the spectrum get a lot out of it.
So what are some of the most common products that you can buy fair trade?
Coffee, tea, sugar, honey, bananas, cocoa, wine, as well as cotton and handicrafts.
I try to eat organic, as well as local. Eating local is also very important for alleviating poverty, as well as helping the environment, because when farmers don't have to pay for shipping costs or try to expand their farms to compete with big midwest farms, they are able to live off their farms. But I think now I am going to start trying to eat/consume more fair-trade products.
So I'm wondering, what can I buy fair trade?
Sugar, for example, is something I don't buy frequently. And while the bone-white sugar at the local megamart is cheap, buying a bag of fair trade sugar elsewhere might cost only a little more, and only sting once.
My options for fair-trade bananas are limited, because Shoppers only carries one kind of banana. I buy wine local (Basignani Riesling - best wine ever.)
Fair Trade Certified, the organization that certifies fair trade, offers a list of helpful shopping locations. They also tell you the logo to look for on packaging that is fair trade certified.
Another important thing to consider is buying fair trade cosmetics. Body Shop cosmetics are purchased via "community trade" which is the same concept (as well as cruelty free), and while they are more than you probably currently spend on shampoo, they are still cheaper than buying organic cosmetics. (And buying organic does not mean it is fair-trade certified.) And again, will paying a couple dollars more for shampoo or coconut scented body lotion really hurt that much at the end of the month?
While there are many ways to use food to eliminate hunger, there aren't a lot of ways to eliminate poverty through food. So consider harnessing your consumer power and supporting people around the world. If you still can't get your head around paying a little more for products, consider it a charitable contribution to working individuals in the third world (or as John McCain would say, "countries that don't like us very much"). It may not be tax deductable, but instead of paying for the overhead and operating costs of a nonprofit with your $20 donation, you are paying for working families to be in their villages and not in exploitative garment factories. You are helping people to empower themselves. And yes, you are helping to end poverty.

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