What do ingredients such as sugar, cocoa, vanilla, coffee and bananas all have in common? In addition to enlivening an array of Ben & Jerry’s flavors, we source them all from Fairtrade certified purveyors. Fairtrade ensures that small farmers in developing countries receive fair prices for their products. More than that, it promotes environmentally sound farming, the implementation of safe working standards, and investments in communities.
October is Fair Trade Month—the biggest Fairtrade celebration of the year. And Fairtrade America, which works directly with companies that use Fairtrade certified products, is kicking off the party by underscoring the importance of ethical sourcing. It’s simple, really. Choose Fairtrade. Protect the environment. Improve lives. And enjoy quality products.
Here are a few of our favorites:
(Photo via Senda Athletics)
Senda Athletics wants those who pass, punt and dribble its Fairtrade certified soccer, football and basketballs to: 1) beat their opponents and 2) squash sweatshops. Senda says the need for fair wages and better working conditions applies to both farm workers and factory workers worldwide. Thus, its sports balls marry athletics and social responsibility by having all ball producers under the Senda umbrella meet social, economic and environmental criteria.
(Photo via Divine Chocolate)
Chocolate occupies the upper echelons of savored flavors, but cocoa production in developing nations has been an area rife with ethical strife. Consider this: globally, almost 100 million children work in agriculture. About half of them are unpaid family laborers, while others are forced, trafficked, indentured, underpaid and/or working in unsafe conditions. More than 2 million of these children work in West African cocoa, where more than 70 percent of the world’s cocoa is grown.
Divine Chocolate has made it its mission to improve the lives of those involved. The company is co-owned by 85,000 farmer members representative of a Ghana-based cooperative called Kuapa Kokoo—which means good cocoa growers. Kuapa Kokoo supplies the cocoa for each Divine bar, while its flock shares profits, enjoys a say in the company and, collectively, has a powerful voice in the global marketplace.
The Ben & Jerry's Save Our Swirled Tour visited Patagonia last May with free scoops and a powerful climate action message.
Patagonia produces the fleeces, knits and thermals that keep us toasty through fall and frigid winter. But it’s also a brand that implores consumers to warm up to Fairtrade principles. The company expanded its Fairtrade certified lineup this year from 33 products in spring to 192 this fall. For every Fairtrade certified item we buy from the company, Patagonia pays a premium. That cash pools in an account that workers control. Funds are earmarked for social, economic and environmental development projects. And they can also be withdrawn as a bonus to enhance living wages.
(Photo via Theo Chocolate)
Theo Chocolate founder Joe Whinney helped pioneer the supply of organic cocoa beans into the U.S. in the mid-’90s. Traveling and working in Central America and Africa, he fell in love with the land and the people farming it. He also recognized an injustice in the way that both were being exploited and wanted to invoke change. Today, his Seattle-based company is dedicated to delicious organic chocolate and the interconnected relationships that go into its Fairtrade certified production. “From the cacao farmer in the Congo, to the truck driver in Seattle, to the chocolate lover in Philadelphia, there is a thread that runs through us all.”
Pact Apparel, maker of underwear, socks and tees, packs a lofty business imperative—namely, to sell clothing that improves lives. Here’s how it works: You purchase Fairtrade certified clothing from the brand and money from that sale goes directly into a worker-controlled fund. Workers then use those bucks to enhance their communities. In the meantime, you score some plush, organic-cotton duds and, according to the brand, everybody wins. “We believe in putting people first, so that’s why we are taking Fairtrade to places it’s never been before: the clothes you wear everyday.”
Dr. Bronner’s “Old World” quality soaps, shampoos and lotions are born of time-honored simplicity. But the company also keeps the cutting edge honed thanks to forward-thinking, world-bettering business practices. In 2006, Dr. Bronner’s committed to sourcing major raw materials from Fairtrade certified projects, ensuring fair prices, living wages and community benefits for farmers and their families. In addition, the company reinvests earnings in order to support Fairtrade advocacy, to grow and strengthen the movement for fair wages, and to achieve just treatment for farmers and workers around the world.
(Photo via Glamour.com)
The Sustain Condoms brand, in its wildest fantasies, wants to see Fairtrade rubber match or surpass the popularity of Fairtrade coffee. And the company is admittedly wrapped up in the cause: “How can we not be? From clothing factory fires in Bangladesh to newspaper exposés on the human costs of electronic goods made in China, we can’t ignore the horrible working conditions endured by so many to create everyday products.” To that end, Sustain’s latex comes from a sustainable rubber tree plantation in southern India that provides a legitimate livelihood to its 180 rubber tappers and their families. In addition to banishing child labor and paying reasonable wages, the plantation provides education and healthcare to the community.