Fair Trade Program

The Peace & Justice Center is committed to promoting economic justice for all

We believe fair trading principles are at the core of a solution to a healthy and dignified lifestyle for people all over the world. We would be happy to visit your classroom or community group to present the realities of our global economy and the power of fair trade. Our presentations foster discussion surrounding free trade vs. fair trade, the realities of the cocoa industry, and the implications of globalization.

We offer our programs as public events around Vermont. We would be happy to work with you to bring a workshop to your part of Vermont, place of work, or other community group. Interested in co-sponsoring one of our programs? Click here to find out about co-sponsorship.

We also provide a market for artisans and farmers to sell their products and the opportunity for the public to learn about ethical trade through our Fair Trade Store!

Peace and Justice Store Front

Interested in bringing our programming to your community? Click the button below to submit a request

Why Fair Trade?

Fair Trade is NOT free trade.  Free trade allows for the lowering of tariffs, quotas, labor principles, and environmental standards in order to easily trade between nations without much constraint. It aids in the free flow of capital and the tapping of cheaper foreign labor markets. This enables corporations to maximize their profits without necessarily taking into consideration the rights and livelihoods of the people who make or grow the traded products.

Fair trade is an alternative to free trade, offering farmers and producers in developing countries a better price for their work. It is benefitting more than 7.5 million artisans and farmers in over 60 countries, especially in rural areas where nearly 75% of the world’s most marginalized and poorest people live.

The fair trade movement provides a unique opportunity for small producers to get organized for better prices, working conditions and wages. It empowers women and supports transparency and sustainable development. We as consumers have a responsibility to condemn a system that relies on over-working individuals in compromising, unsafe working situations. Wealth is distributed not to the workers, but to importers, merchants, and ultimately corporations. Every time we purchase a product we endorse the entirety of the process that comprised the making of that item. We have the power to change the system! Buy fair trade; know where your products come from, who made them, and if their work can support a dignified lifestyle! Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Take a look at some global industries ...

Fair Trade Movement

The Global South has long been exploited in the name of cheap labor, benefiting the Global North. Free trade agreements enable multinational corporations to take advantage of low wages and inadequate working conditions for workers. The Fair Trade Federation sets a basis for universal guidelines to protect workers and the environment. Our Fair Trade pamphlet lists these principles and how as a consumer, you be conscious of the global atmosphere and trade reality. The PJC offers many Fair Trade Presentations, if you would like to learn more!

Download Pamphlet

Cocoa

Chocolate is considered to be one of the most delicious treats worldwide, yet it holds a dark truth beneath.

Pressure from large corporations requires the lowering of cocoa production costs, which is harmful to the small producers who depend on the industry for survival. In order to keep costs low, millions of children are enslaved or employed for extremely low wages. Along the Ivory Coast, where over one third of the world’s cocoa is produced, there exists a persistent disregard for the well being of workers and the planet. Regardless of age, workers are subject to poor working conditions and unjust wages, if they receive compensation at all. In return, producers only receive about 3% of the market price, with retailers and distributors monopolizing profits.

Today, only 5% of the world’s cocoa is fair trade. By supporting fair trade cocoa companies, consumers can vote with their dollars and encourage producers to practice ethical and sustainable measures.

Banana

The banana is currently the most popular fruit within the United States, with a history of over a century of political intervention, violence and exploitation.

The conventional banana industry has historically relied upon the monopolization of transport, staged political coups, and private payments to terrorist groups by multinational companies, such as Chiquita. Conventional agriculture relies heavily on monocropping; a dangerous practice of repeatedly planting one variety of crop on the same plot of land, which increases susceptibility to certain crop diseases and involves the use of harmful agrochemicals. These agrochemicals not only damage the surrounding ecosystem, but are detrimental to the workers in the field and residents nearby. Among the many health complications that are associated with these agrochemicals, birth defects and the sterilization of male banana farm laborers are two of the most prevalent.

Apparel

The apparel industry is notorious for unfair and dangerous practices brought on by fast fashion. The industry has been known for numerous human rights violations, including the reliance on child labor to keep up with high-demands, and the violence faced by women garment-makers, who account for 75% of the total workers. Garment workers in the Global South have been victims of overcrowding and deadly factory fires and collapse which have claimed thousands of lives.

As a consumer you can support fair trade clothing companies through purchasing second-hand pieces, or make your own re-purposed clothes!

One company that values their artisan’s work and well-being is US Sherpa, which features hand-knitted goods from Nepal, while being based in Vermont. You can check out their products and those of many other ethical companies in the Peace and Justice Store!