Fair Trade Gift/Purchase Opportunities

As you look at your purchases, here are some issue to consider in terms of the impact your purchases have on people around the world. This page contains information on Fiar Trade as part of a list of suggestions prepared for First Baptist Church of Huntersville, NC.

—Fair Trade Gifts

Relatively recently, some have begun thinking in terms of the impact their purchases can make in the Fair Trade marketplace, making a difference in the families dependent upon Mom and Pop microenterprises in contrast to the profits of large corporation at the expense of poor workers struggling to survive on daily incomes of less that US$2.00.

A few years ago a major fast food chain was publicizing that their beef was not raised on reclaimed rainforest land. I was unfamiliar with any reclaimed rainforest land that could sustain a cattle industry. The Amazon in Brasil is unsuitable for cattle ranching, as the soil is too poor for agriculture after a patch is cleared, due to periodic soil erosion. A much larger issue has less to do with rainforests and much more to do with the ethics of large corporate plantations that shift biodiversity to monoculture and create economic slaves of local workers hired at subsistence levels. It is not so much the cattle industry that creates these problems as industry around the growing of fruit, coffee, cocoa, tea, and related products.

Fair trade has to do with land and biodiversity conservation issues, but moreso with the living condition of field workers. Much along the lines of using slave labor for the growth of tobacco, sugar cane, and cotton in our own past, too many corporations flood our markets with products produced in inhumane conditions. The models employed by such as the East India Company of ages past have not disappeared simply because we live in the 21st Century. As we purchase goods, we are at some point responsible for maintaining inhumane, exploitative practices by too many global corporations, many of them our own corporations doing overseas what they cannot legally do here.

A good introduction to Fair Trade is a wonderful, short tale by Julia Álvarez, A Cafecito Story in which she weaves the impact of purchasing a cup of coffee on workers raising the beans half a world away. There are means to purchase things like coffee, tea, chocolate, and other goods which serve as great gifts but also positively impact communities around the world. Below are some links for making Fair Trade part of our purchases. Many corporations are already adapting some of their purchase practices, including initiatives by Starbucks, Ben & Jerry's initiative, and Proctor & Gamble. Such changes do not happen on their own, but are the result of groups like OxFam working to encourage corporations to change their global business practices.

Places you can find Fair Trade merchandise:

Further Learning on Fair Trade:

Microfinance Loans for Microenterprises

Fair Trade Gifts

Community Development Projects

Providing Farm Animals to Families in Need

Operation Christmas Child

Clothing Closet Needs (Lydia's Loft)

Serving Food to the Needy

Adopting Families in Need for Gifts/Food

That "Other" Category

Back to Giving Project Opportunity List

—Christopher B. Harbin

Theotrek —updated: 15 February 2011

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