Editorial: Fair Trade awareness helps to reap global benefits

By Laura Hancq
October 19, 2011

October is Fair Trade month, not just at Cabrini College, but also all over the world. What is Fair Trade? Well, according to fairtrade.usa.org, it is just that: fair. Fair Trade products are ones that “come from farmers who are justly compensated.”

As consumers, we have immense purchasing powers. Our purchases can change the world. This is why just purely being aware of Fair Trade is really important. If we know the importance, we can make a miniscule shopping decision that can make a huge difference.

As Cabrini students, most of us live in suburbia, where we just go to the local supermarket and can choose from a plethora of goods and hardly think twice about it. Most of these goods go through the typical distribution process. However, a few select goods, such as certain coffee, chocolcate and  banana brands have gone through the Fair Trade process. Supporting Fair Trade is as easy as just looking at the packaging and buying a different kind of coffee, for example. And you know what? It’s really good.

It’s really good for a reason. High quality is a standard set by many Fair Trade producers. Fair Trade is not a charity; it’s a productive way of doing business. Fair Trade USA states on their website, “we help farmers in developing countries build sustainable businesses that positively influence their communities. We teach disadvantaged communities how to use the free market to their advantage.” In other words, it’s not a Band-Aid or a temporary solution; it’s a justifiable way of life.

Farmers who are interested in producing Fair Trade products form cooperatives. The cooperative then becomes vital to the community. Just as any other company would do, there are various positions a worker can hold in the cooperative and standards  which their performance must match. The cooperative funds a community; members look out for each other. Houses are built and improved and children get the opportunity to attend and stay in school.

According to Fair Trade USA, “Through direct, equitable trade, farming and working families are able to eat better, keep their kids in school, improve health and housing and invest in the future.” As consumers and just everyday citizens, why wouldn’t we want to help our fellow man with these basic things? Especially when it is as easy as just looking to see what kind of chocolate bar you buy?

Fair Trade is an area of social justice that Cabrini is at the forefront with in terms of education and offering Fair Trade products. The Loquitur editorial staff is thankful that as students, we have had the opportunity to learn and make a difference.

From participating in the Fair Trade Wallyball Tournament to being served Fair Trade banana splits in the Marketplace, Cabrini students have so many opportunities to learn and participate in this important cause. The Catholic Relief Services Ambassadors do a fantastic job of spreading campus awareness. The Loquitur editorial staff encourages students to remember all of the hard work that has gone into this month on campus and apply that to our purchasing decisions. Choices can start in our own bookstore by purchasing our new line of Fair Trade clothing

Fair Trade is special because it’s an area where all of us can actually make an immediate difference. Cabrini is paving the way for colleges and universities across the country to adopt Fair Trade products as part of the campus community.

As global citizens, all we have to do is say yes. Say yes to buying and advocating for Fair Trade and say yes to having an immediate positive impact on the life of our brothers and sisters across the world.

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Laura Hancq

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