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Fair Trade in the Classroom

Are you, or do you know, a teacher that could benefit from introducing his or her classroom to the idea of Fair Trade? We’ve assembled some short lesson plan ideas around core Fair Trade concepts that are free to use and adapt to your target age group.

What is Fair Trade?
This business concept focuses on a few key factors such as dialogue between parties, mutual respect, fair prices, safe working conditions, community development, and environmental impact.

Aside from the obvious nature of handcraftsmanship, Fair Trade goods help preserve indigenous culture and respects the cultural identity of the people who create them. Skills are often passed down through generations and providing sustainable buying power helps to keep this craft alive. In addition, Fair Trade products are created using materials that are good for the environment. You’ll notice the products in our shop are crafted using a combination of upcycled, recycled, and sustainable materials.

Sometimes, there’s no substitution for a face-to-face relationship. The most reputable players in the Fair Trade space will visit artisans multiple times per year to ensure the workers have what they need to craft products safely and sustainably. We pride ourselves on having a close-knit relationship with each group to ensure they are thoroughly supported.

Types of products
Products can be edible items like coffee, tea, chocolate, and produce; apparel items like clothing, jewelry, accessories, and textiles; or even personal care items like soaps and cleaning products.

Just as with every other facet of Fair Trade, the design process should be extremely collaborative. When we visit our artisans in person, much of the time spent together is used to create new styles for upcoming seasons. Trial and trial again is the best way to create new, on-trend, designs we know our customers will love.

Pricing of products
Most Fair Trade businesses don’t set the prices paid to their workers, instead the workers should set their own prices and be free to change them at will. A fair wage is determined based on the average cost of living in each country. Our entire partnership is based upon transparency, trust, and a mutual respect, and allows for communication from each party to allow for fair compensation.

Fair Trade Myths
Fair Trade is not charity. Nearly half the world’s population lives on less than $3USD per day. Fair Trade workers earn several times more than a country’s average wage creating self-sufficiency through sustainable work. This is a long-term solution to a problem that charity can’t fix.

Fair Trade does not result in an end product that is more expensive than its traditionally manufactured alternative. You’ll find that most Fair Trade products are priced the same or very similar to traditionally manufactured goods. The added benefit of Fair Trade means you’re getting a product that makes a difference without an impact on your wallet. It also typically eliminates the markup of products that pass through several channels before arriving to the customer.

Fair Trade does not eliminate American jobs. Styles produced by artisans stem from rich traditional culture of each region and often do not have an American alternative. Traditional skills are often passed down from previous generations and use materials abundantly found in very specific regions of the world.

How customers can support these ideas
If Fair Trade ideas are something of interest to the consumer, it’s very easy to support them by seeking out products that follow these practices. To ensure you are purchasing from a reputable Fair Trade retailer, you should look for specifics of practices and relationships on the website and social media pages. Ask questions about the materials used, products, and process if you can’t find what you’re looking for. You’ll feel good knowing you’ve purchased a product that makes a difference.