The Many Impacts of Fair Trade: Part 2

Photo courtesy Fair Trade USA

So I’ve been outlining some of the many benefits of fair trade, and in the last post in this series I focused on the benefit women see when you buy a fair trade item.

Today I want to look at how fair trade alleviates poverty, and becomes a powerful, transformational force of good in struggling communities.

Alleviating Poverty with Fair Trade

One of my favorite charities is Heifer International. This amazing non-profit works on the same principles that fair trade does. Put simply, you can give someone food or money, and they’ll eat for a day. But if you give them the education and resources to make their own money, they’ll eat forever.

Heifer works by donating animals like cows, sheep, pigs, bunnies, or even bees, to people in impoverished communities. They spend a great deal of time teaching families how to care for their new animal. And the iron-clad rule is that the family must give away that animal’s first born to another family in the village, and spread the wealth.

These animals transform the lives of these families because they now have a healthy, free food source (like eggs, milk, or honey), and they can sell the excess. The gift of one animal can dramatically improve the quality of living for a family.

Fair trade does the same thing, just in a slightly different way. When you purchase a fair trade item, you’re supporting an organization that truly cares that the artisans or farmers working for them are paid wages they can actually live on. Keeping that organization in business means giving families a reliable income for years to come.

Farmers also often join together to form co-ops; these co-ops give the greater purchasing and selling power, and help ensure that everyone gets a fair wage for their crops. Fair trade also helps them escape the wildly fluctuating prices of crops; when prices fall dramatically, or even a little bit, it hits impoverished families especially hard.

And think about what happens when one family has extra money to spend. They buy more food and clothing from others in their village. This, in turn, helps those families to successfully crawl out of poverty as well. Everyone benefits with fair trade.

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