October is national Fair Trade Month

October is the 11th annual National Fair Trade Month. Fair trade products are "food or crafts that are produced under standards designed to end and prevent the poverty, sweatshop labor conditions, environmental degradation, etc. that are endemic to the free trade 'race to the bottom' that puts profits above people and the planet," according to the Global Exchange human rights organization.

Fair trade products can be found throughout Cleveland Heights, in grocery stores, local boutiques and major chains. As the holiday shopping season begins, this month's special designation offers a chance to reflect a little bit more on purchases.

If you're buying a gift, is it as unique as its ultimate recipient? Do you know who made it, where it came from and the impact of your purchase? Was it produced under safe conditions and for fair wages?

Fair trade shopping provides answers to these questions while stretching your money farther than you may have imagined. It enables fair labor standards and provides financial security and emotional independence to artisans—often women—who would otherwise have nothing. It enables children to go to school and not work in the fields, factories or on the streets. It allows the disabled and un-educated to find self-confidence and skills. It helps communities to flourish both economically and emotionally. Fair trade is more than a label; it’s a way of life.  

Ten Thousand Villages, with a store located in the Cedar Fairmount Business District, is a nonprofit charitable organization that offers fair trade products from more than 100 artisan groups in 36 developing countries. It was voted “Best Place to Buy a Gift” and “Best Cleveland Heights Business” in the 2013 Best of the Heights awards, presented by FutureHeights and the Heights Observer.

Whether you shop at Ten Thousand Villages or any other local business that offers fair trade products, National Fair Trade Month is a good time to consider the true cost and value of the things you buy.         

Laura Potter

Laura Potter is store manager for Ten Thousand Villages in Cleveland Heights. She is active on the Ohio Fair Trade Expo Committee and the Cedar Fairmount SID Marketing Committee.

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Volume 7, Issue 10, Posted 3:08 PM, 09.29.2014