October is known for a lot of great things, including breast cancer awareness month, Halloween and the onset of autumn. But a lesser known feature of October is that it is Fair Trade Month. What exactly is fair trade? The World Fair Trade Organization defines it as "a trading partnership based on dialogue, transparency, and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers."
You might not know it, but there are a lot of great companies out there that participate in fair trade. One such company was brought to my attention not too long ago. Though I didn't know much about the company itself, I had seen its brands on the shelves of local drugstores. One of these brands is Shea Moisture, a Sundial Brands product and an amazing cosmetics business that purchases their ingredients from women in developing countries. You can find Shea Moisture products at many stores including Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, Sephora, Ulta, and Target.
Featured on their Instagram account are stories of mothers in developing countries like Ghana, who help harvest shea for Shea Moisture. These women receive a monetary income which helps their families and children in many ways. This is one of my favorite parts about Shea Moisture and, if you have read some of my other articles, you will know that if a product supports the well-being of others, I am all about it.
Fair Trade Month is incredibly important because it represents the initiatives of large, developed brands providing for people in developing countries. Since 1998, $440 million has gone to farmers, workers, and fisherman through fair trade. Thousands of fair-trade products contribute to the growth of businesses that can propel the whole world forward.
Fair trade isn't just limited to beauty products. Its benefits reach industries ranging from clothing to food, to home goods and basically anything that can be made, sold and purchased. Which well-known businesses participate in fair trade initiatives? Some of the biggest names include Patagonia, Kashi, Athleta, Larabar and West Elm. Check out Fair Trade Certified to find a more comprehensive list of companies from which you can purchase fair-trade-certified products.
So, next time you need a new sweatshirt, a box of granola bars, some new face moisturizer or even a dresser for your apartment, look to see which companies produce and sell these items. Help equalize opportunity around the world. Help fight poverty and third-world conditions. We can all make the world a better place and we can only hope other companies will catch on, too.