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Big Changes for Little Lives

“A person’s a person, no matter how small.” – Dr. Seuss

You could guess any blog post that starts with a Dr. Seuss quote is going to be a good blog post. And you’d be right. Except we’re taking it to the next level and combining Dr. Seuss and Fair Trade so you could guess this post is going to be great.

We’ve previously discussed how Fair Trade is defined. While it has a hefty, technical definition, it can be summarized with its three core purposes (not to mention our core purposes): Fair Trade is being supportive, being fair, and being thoughtful. Each of these principles aids in making a greater life for children in developing countries. So, let’s look into how.

What Became Fair Trade
The International Labour Organization (ILO) defines child labor as work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children. Such work interferes with their schooling by depriving them of the opportunity to attend school, obliging them to leave school prematurely, or requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work.

Over 70 million children worldwide are working in hazardous conditions and child labor is an issue that deserves attention until the problem is completely eradicated. Past solution attempts have included improving international compliance with human rights standards, leveraging of trade sanctions, boycotts, increasing legislation, and enforcing harsher sentences. Unfortunately, these solutions are difficult to enforce and have achieved minimal success.

The idea of Fair Trade evolved because consumers felt marketplace regulations weren’t providing opportunities to certain regions, including some of the least developed nations of the world, nations that are home to our artisans.

Backlash against such regulations inspired a movement that something needed to change. Something that could reduce poverty by opening up transparency and assist marginalized producers to enter the mainstream markets. Something that benefited workers who could finally hold a job with a steady paycheck, in a safe environment, where prices aren’t subject to random fluctuations in the market.

This something became Fair Trade.

Circle of Life Choices
Fair Trade is not charitable giving. It’s an opportunity for those who deserve fair workplace treatment to have fair workplace treatment. Buying Fair Trade is an investment in someone else’s future. When you say yes to Fair Trade and eco-friendly goods, you’re saying no to sweatshops, unfair wages, and child labor. The less child labor is used to produce the products you buy, the less it will be a market demand, and the more workplace treatment, as well as fair pay, will be regulated how it should. It’s the circle of life choices.

Economic stability is crucial to the elimination of child labor—it addresses the root of the problem. Providing work for our artisan in a safe environment is establishing the economic stability needed to start seeing permanent changes. We ensure that each artist is fairly compensated for their time, labor, and talent. Our partners set their own prices to help ensure a livable income, an income that supports themselves and their children’s needs.

When women in developing countries are supported, the economic effects ripple through their economy. When a woman is lifted out of poverty, she takes an average of three people with her and, ultimately, lift up entire towns.

Generating Success
In areas where children may have been subjected to long hours working in a factory, we’re seeing child employment levels decline. A main focus of ours is to ensure the children of our artisan partners attend regular schooling. In many of the communities in which we work, school isn’t a guaranteed right and comes with a price tag. By empowering families to have the ability to pay for schooling, we’re doing our part to set the next generation up for success while simultaneously empowering workers here and now.

Yes, child labor is still an issue; however, with your support and with continuing progress to change what “normal” working conditions are for developing countries, it is an issue that moving in the right direction. It can be overwhelming to take in all this information and to understand the hardships others face that we may not fully understand here at home, but knowledge is power and there is greater power in using that knowledge to do good.

Let’s do good together.