When you think of buying fair trade products, most times you’ll hit the Internet first. Or, perhaps there’s a retail store close to you that sells fair trade products.
But imagine living in a town where almost everyone sells fair trade products. Amazing, right?
Well, it’s not just a fairy tale. Fair Trade Towns, which are common in Europe, are now starting to pop up here in the United States.
As of this writing, there are 12 such Fair Trade Towns, stretching across the country from California to Vermont. Bangor, Maine will probably be the next town to get approved, bringing the number up to 13.
So, what does being a Fair Trade Town really mean?
Fair Trade Towns
The idea behind Fair Trade Towns was started by Hal Taussig, a farmer and rancher who began to realize, late in life, that he wanted to do more than just acquire a fortune. After trying several different philanthropy efforts, he started the Fair Trade Towns USA movement.
Hal knew that Fair Trade provides people with multiple benefits: it raises the income of impoverished people, it provides low-cost, quality goods to consumers, and it helps create jobs where they’re needed most, and it’s mindful of the earth every step of the way.
Hal’s idea was that if he could convince an entire town to get involved with fair trade, then he’d really be making a difference.
The first Fair Trade Town was Media, PA. Media became a Fair Trade Town in 2006. And since then, a dozen other towns and cities have followed suit.
What It Means to be a Fair Trade Town
So, what do you actually have to do to become a Fair Trade Town?
Well, according to the British Fair Trade Foundation, a town has to have:
- a certain number of retailers, based on population, sell Fair Trade Certified items,
- a certain number of businesses use Fair Trade Certified items,
- the elected body of the community pass a resolution in support of Fair Trade promising to serve only Fair Trade Certified products at its meetings and events,
- an ongoing committee that promotes Fair Trade, and
- lots of media coverage about Fair Trade.
As you can see, it’s definitely a lot of work to get certified as a Fair Trade Town. But, it’s definitely worth the effort!
If you live in a Fair Trade town (or one, like Berkley, CA or Bangor, ME, that’s about to become one) I’d love to hear back from you. What’s it’s like there? Do you believe that living in a Fair Trade Town is making a positive difference in the world?
Filed under: Fair Trade News on February 24th, 2010