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Fair Trade Program – Peace & Justice Center

Fair Trade Program

Fair Trade Program

The Peace and Justice Center is committed to working for economic justice.

We believe fair trading principles are at the core of a solution to a healthy and dignified lifestyle for our brothers and sisters all over the world. We would be happy to visit your classroom or community group to present the realities of our global economy and the power of fair trade. Fair Trade is described in many different ways by multiple organizations. Simply put, fair trade is a social justice movement – an alternative way of trading based on the principles of economic and social justice.

“We as a Center support the concept provided by the Burlington Fair Trade Network describing fair trade as “an international movement to make trade fair for small producers in developing countries, supporting sustainable development, changes in corporate behavior and changes in international trade policies.

~Fair Trade Burlington

Maya Vinic Coffee Cooperative Fair Trade
A producer for Maya Vinic Coffee Cooperative walks towards a processing facility in Acteal, Mexico.

What is Fair Trade?

Fair Trade is…

  • An alternative trading partnership based on the principles of economic and social justice including transparency and respect
  • A way for consumers to support better labor rights and environmental advocacy through everyday shopping
  • Better prices, working conditions, and wages for small producers
  • Empowering women and other marginalized workers

Who does Fair Trade benefit?

Fair Trade works with marginalized populations especially in rural areas where nearly 75% of the world’s poorest live

SMALL FARMERS AND ARTISANS Through direct partnerships between buyers and producers, fair trade is a reliable way for farmers and artisans to sell their products and earn money for their families and communities

WORKERS They are paid fairly for their labor in safe environments and treated as people, not just assets to a corporation

WOMEN A large number of garment workers and farmers in developing countries are women

CHILDREN Kids are protected by their country’s local laws and social norms including the right to security, education, and play

TRADERS/COMPANIES Fair trade offers companies a credible way to ensure that their trade has a positive impact for the people at the end of the supply chain

ENVIRONMENT It encourages farming and production practices that are environmentally sound

SHOPPERS They can purchase items in line with their values and principles

Why Fair Trade?

Fair Trade is NOT free trade.  Free trade allows for the lowering of tariffs, quotas, labor principles, and environmental standards in order to easily trade between nations without much constraint. It aids in the free flow of capital and the tapping of cheaper foreign labor markets. This enables corporations to maximize their profits without necessarily taking into consideration the rights and livelihoods of the people who make or grow the traded products.

Fair trade is an alternative to free trade, offering farmers and producers in developing countries a better price for their work. It is benefitting more than 7.5 million artisans and farmers in over 60 countries, especially in rural areas where nearly 75% of the world’s most marginalized and poorest people live.

Right now, the rights and livelihoods of people are under attack by two pending free trade agreements- the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The TPP is a secret trade agreement currently being negotiated by a minority of the US congress, 11 other countries, and over 600 corporate officials. The articles in the agreement are statues that would protect corporate interests and have negative effects on small producers, local jobs, and people-to-people interactions. Click here to read more about the TPP and TTIP.

The fair trade movement provides a unique opportunity for small producers to get organized for better prices, working conditions and wages. It empowers women and supports transparency and sustainable development. We as consumers have a responsibility to condemn a system that relies on over-working individuals in compromising, unsafe working situations. Wealth is distributed not to the workers, but to importers, merchants, and ultimately corporations. Every time we purchase a product we endorse the entirety of the process that comprised the making of that item. We have the power to change the system! Buy fair trade; know where your products come from, who made them, and if their work can support a dignified lifestyle! Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

In the United States, products can be certified fair trade by several different labeling organizations. Definitions of fair trade may vary depending on the organization, but most operate based on basic principles such as the World Fair Trade Organization’s 10 principles of fair trade.

Every time you make a purchase please check the package and see if you can spot a fair trade logo, which will ensure that the company you’re supporting is committed to providing a fair deal to its artisans or producers. Click here if you are interested in learning more about labeling concerning multi-ingredient products (like chocolate bars.) For more information on the different fair trade labels, check out this handy guide.

The Peace & Justice Store

The Peace & Justice Store is an economic empowerment project of the Peace & Justice Center. The store itself represents more than 60 artisan groups from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Each of these groups has one or several programs that benefit their local communities including micro credit for starting small business, education, medical care, vocational training for youth, street violence prevention, rescuing and rehabilitation for women and children victims of human trafficking, housing, community gardens and more.

In addition to providing a market for these artisan’s goods, we are committed to sharing their stories, goals, and accomplishments with every costumer that comes to the store. We also work with local businesses in Vermont communities that have fair and transparent business practices.

More than just Burlington’s source for local and Fair Trade products, the Peace & Justice store is a window to learn about other cultures and an open door for discussion on social justice, peace, sustainability, and transparency. Our store is dedicated to raising awareness and promoting change!

Our fair trade store is very well connected and supported by our community. The store is completely staffed by our wonderful volunteers who come from various backgrounds and paradigms who offer invaluable assets to our Center. We have a core of over 19 very committed and passionate volunteers that believe in the importance of raising awareness and educating our community regarding Fair Trade.

If you would like to volunteer in our store, please contact us at volunteer@pjcvt.org

Educational & Outreach Program

In addition to providing a market for artisans and farmers to sell their products, we have a commitment to educate our community regarding Fair Trade and its impact locally and globally.

Our education and outreach program offers educational presentations and resources to school groups, college classes, business owners and any group that is interested in learning more about fair trade as a way of promoting change for social and economic justice. Our presentations foster discussion surrounding free trade vs. fair trade, the realities of the cocoa industry, and the implications of globalization.

We are engaged in local and national campaigns that exert pressure on US companies to end abuse and forced child and trafficked labor. We support initiatives that demand transparency and accountability for a more sustainable way of trading.

Schedule a Presentation

If you are interested in learning more about Fair Trade or would like to schedule a presentation for your class, book club, or neighbors please contact Carmen Solari, our Fair Trade Programs Manager at carmen@pjcvt.org and help us grow the movement.

Fair Trade Burlington Network

The Peace & Justice Center works closely with Fair Trade Burlington Network organizing events, reaching out to the community, and spreading the word about the importance of Fair Trade.

Fair Trade Burlington Network is one of Vermont’s newest consumer movements. This network was instrumental in establishing Burlington as the 12th Fair Trade Town in the US in August 2009. They are Burlington’s Fair Trade Town committee, which is supported by over 15 local businesses, places of worship, and individuals from our community. They are also part of a growing national coalition of town organizations with community activists dedicated to the principles of fair trade.

Please visit the Fair Trade Burlington Network to learn more.

Fiar Trade Burlington Network with Bernie Sanders
Fair Trade Burlington Network’s first World Fair Trade Day as a Fair Trade Town with Bernie Sanders