Saturday, July 30, 2011

Let's Make a Fair Trade

What makes a fair trade? If someone wanted to trade you a toothpick for your house, would that be a fair trade? It really depends on how badly you need the toothpick. What makes an item "fair trade"? There are many confusing labels and definitions that can be associated with fair trade and we wanted to set the record straight (especially because we see A LOT of beautiful in fair trade efforts and products and plan on featuring fair trade products ourselves).

FAIR TRADE DEFINITION: Fairtrade is a partnership between the producers and buyers. "Fair Trade is a system of exchange that honors producers, communities, consumers, and the environment. It is a model for the global economy rooted in people-to-people connections, justice, and sustainability" (Green America, 2011)

The International Fair Trade Labeling Organization sets a base price for the commodity. This price includes the cost of production and appropriate wages to to provide food, shelter, clothing, education, and medical care. All parties involved in the Fair Trade Supply Chain are certified by TransFair USA to ensure they pay Fair Trade price for products.

Understanding Fair Trade labels:
Image house and linked to Fairtrade International
 When you buy a product with this label, you can feel good know that it's been certified that international Fairtrade standards have been met. Standards are designed to "address the imbalance of power in trading relationships, unstable markets and the injustices of conventional trade" (Fairtrade International, 2011). When you buy an item with this label, producers also receive a "Fairtrade Premium" that will be invested back into their community.

Image housed and linked back to TransFair USA

When you see this label on food, you know that the US Fair Trade certifying body, TransFair USA, has certified the farmer has received a fair price for the commodity. 

Image housed and linked back to Fair Trade Federation

 This label represents the Fair Trade Federation, North American organizations fully committed to fair trade.

Fair trade Federation Members are committed to:

  • Creating Opportunities for Economically and Socially Marginalized Producers, 
  • Developing Transparent and Accountable Relationships, 
  • Building Capacity, 
  • Promoting Fair Trade, 
  • Paying Promptly and Fairly, 
  • Supporting Safe and Empowering Working Conditions, 
  • Ensuring the Rights of Children, 
  • Cultivating Environmental Stewardship, and 
  • Respecting Cultural Identity.

 When it comes to the Fair Trade initiative, it's something we see so much beauty in. As you review the bullet points above, what's not to love. As you are out in your community, search for these labels and feel good when you buy products certified as fair trade. You're directly improving the life/lives of others, as well as their community.

Sidenote: See Beautiful would love to sell bumper stickers and car magnets that read See Beautiful, but we can't find any companies who design them and are certified fair trade. If you, or someone you know, can locate a business that does this fair trade, please let us know! Our current products are recycled, so we feel good about where they're coming from, but we don't want to sell any products that aren't helping everyone involved see more beautiful.

Great websites to learn more about Fair Trade:
  • Fairtrade International (FLO) click here
  • FLO-CERT click here.
  • International Fair Trade Labeling Organization click here
  • TransFair USA  click here.
  • Fair Trade Federation click here
  • Green America click here.


  1. It's so great to see articles like this on See Beautiful and that you're fully committed to making sure the products you sell are as good for the planet and everyone in it as possible!

    After all I've heard about Chiquita bananas, I only purchase fair trade bananas. For some reason, bananas are the most easy fruit to buy fair trade.. they're available just about everywhere, but not so much other fruits.

  2. WOW....did not know all this. Thank you for enlightening me (and my household). Keep articles like this coming to us. The site and YOU are helping us to provide more beauty into our world.

  3. thank you so much for this information! i try to support fair trade and is really usefull to know more about it : )


Thank you for sharing your thoughts & helping others see beautiful too!