Have you ever thought about why shops owned by multinational corporations such as Coles and K-Mart are able to sell chocolate bars and t-shirts for less than a ¼ of the price of local producers?
Most people haven’t… but what most people also don’t realise is that thinking about what’s behind these bargains is important for being able to make ethical choices as consumers… and these are trade practices.
As a result of a lack of regulation on trade practices between countries, large companies in countries like Australia and the US have been receiving clothes, food products (and more) for a pittance from developing nations. This means that they’re then able to sell things for low prices… which is good for you, as a consumer… but not so good for the farmers, designers and labour workers can't even support themselves on their income.
See this 2 Euro T-Shirt Experiment below as an example -
In order to address this exploitation, Fair Trade was set up as a trading partnership which guarantees producers a minimum price for their products and ensures workers are not exploited for their labour.
While Fair Trade was initially set up as a small scale agreement between some companies and marginalised smallholder farmers, Fair Trade has now grown exponentially and Fair Trade products are now available across the mainstream market.
As a result of this, more farmers and producers are receiving higher and more stable incomes, and the living standards of workers who benefit from the Fair Trade agreement have increased by 30%.
You can learn more about what Fair Trade is and what its benefits are on the international website: https://www.fairtrade.net/, including personal stories of individuals who have improved their lives and that of others by starting up Fair Trade enterprises and signing Fair Trade agreements.
One such story is that of Nasreen Sheikh, the young woman who founded LOCWOM. Nasreen’s story is heart-wrenching, yet incredibly inspiring. After escaping forced marriage and child labour, Nasreen developed a desire to be a voice for other women facing similar circumstances. Read more about her story here.
The organisation focuses on empowering and educating disadvantaged and marginalised women, offering them employment opportunities and mentorship in business entrepreneurship. Over several years, Nasreen has sustained the business by forming partnerships with individuals and organisations around the globe, and selling the products made by her employees directly to consumers.
As a consumer, you can help to support workers, and the principles of Fair Trade by looking for the Fair Trade logo certification when shopping for products and / or even better, by buying directly from consumers.
Whether it be buying fruit straight from the growers at your local farmers market, or ordering from Fair Trade stockists such as LOCWOM, there are many options that work to reduce exploitation in the trade industry. You can be the change.