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Judging a Book by its Cover: Debunking a Misconception

With the continually increasing awareness to sustainable and eco-friendly practices in the fashion industry, consumers have been more interested than ever about how they can play their part in helping to bring such positive change. One of the primary ways this is often executed by these consumers is purchasing Fair Trade products and looking for certified Fair Trade labels.

Are these labels the only way we can be sure our products are sustainable and eco-friendly, though? The answer may surprise you.

Actions Speak Volumes.
We’re here to debunk a common misconception within the Fair Trade movement. “Fair Trade” has become a well-known term over the past decade; however, it’s often associated with fancy coffees, decadent chocolates, and happy farmers. It’s thought to be a good choice for responsibly-sourced products, but many people solely rely on the packaging and branding of a product itself to determine whether their purchase is a responsibly-sourced one. Because we as consumers are not part of the supply chain and are less aware about the practices of our favorite go-to companies, the numerous certifications and eco labels (450+ variations to be exact) that exist are what inform and direct our “eco” decisions.

In response to such labels, we receive many questions about whether we are certified Fair Trade, and in response to such questions, we're forward about the fact that we are not.

After careful consideration, we have made the decision not to be affiliated with organizations that offer a "certified" label. There are countless organizations that, for a fee, offer a logo to be used on Fair Trade products to designate them as such. These organizations simply ask that each respective business ensure their supply chain follows their Fair Trade practices and is essentially self-policing. We felt a better use of funds was to frequently visit our artisan groups in person, assist in building up their own supply chains, and invest back into their communities they are building to grow.

We believe in being a company whose actions speak louder than the words and our practices will always reflect that.

Your Parents Were Right.
Our artisans mean the world to us. They are the backbone of our business and they are why we work hard to uphold our mission. We take several trips to visit our artisans each year to ensure they feel supported in our partnership and for our team to ensure they are compliant with our Fair Trade principles. We believe this is the best use of our resources and more accurately validates our practices as being “fair.”

Now, we want to make one thing clear, Fair Trade certifications and labels are not a negative. We love walking around stores and seeing so many products supporting sustainable practices like we do. These certifications and labels make it easier to point out these products and confirm we as consumers are doing our part to keep progressing the Fair Trade movement. They are a great fit for some brands, but they are not the only designators of a fair product.

Your parents were, in fact, right about one thing: you shouldn’t always judge a book by its cover (or label, in this case). Before judging a company that claims to be sustainably sourced yet has no certified label to back them up, consider what that company may be doing with their resources instead.

We’re at the start of a new year, let’s start with new, refreshed perspectives.