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.

Every time you make a purchase please check the package and see if you can spot a reliable fair trade logo, which will ensure that the company you’re supporting is committed to providing a fair deal to its artisans or producers. Click here if you are interested in learning more about labeling concerning multi-ingredient products (like chocolate bars). For more information on the different fair trade labels, take part in one of our informational programs at the Peace & Justice Center!

The Peace & Justice Store

The Peace & Justice Store is an economic empowerment project of the Peace & Justice Center. The store itself represents more than 60 artisan groups from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Each of these groups has one or several programs that benefit their local communities including micro credit for starting small business, education, medical care, vocational training for youth, street violence prevention, rescuing and rehabilitation for women and children victims of human trafficking, housing, community gardens and more.

In addition to providing a market for these artisan’s goods, we are committed to sharing their stories, goals, and accomplishments with every costumer that comes to the store. We also work with local businesses in Vermont communities that have fair and transparent business practices.

More than just Burlington’s source for local and Fair Trade products, the Peace & Justice store is a window to learn about other cultures and an open door for discussion on social justice, peace, sustainability, and transparency. Our store is dedicated to raising awareness and promoting change!

Our fair trade store is very well connected and supported by our community. The store is completely staffed by our wonderful volunteers who come from various backgrounds and paradigms who offer invaluable assets to our Center. We have a core of over 19 very committed and passionate volunteers that believe in the importance of raising awareness and educating our community regarding Fair Trade.

If you would like to volunteer in our store, please contact us at [email protected]

Educational & Outreach Program

In addition to providing a market for artisans and farmers to sell their products, we have a commitment to educate our community regarding Fair Trade and its impact locally and globally.

Our education and outreach program offers educational presentations and resources to school groups, college classes, business owners and any group that is interested in learning more about fair trade as a way of promoting change for social and economic justice. Our presentations foster discussion surrounding free trade vs. fair trade, the realities of the cocoa industry, and the implications of globalization.

We are engaged in local and national campaigns that exert pressure on US companies to end abuse and forced child and trafficked labor. We support initiatives that demand transparency and accountability for a more sustainable way of trading.

Schedule a Presentation

If you are interested in learning more about Fair Trade or would like to schedule a presentation for your class, book club, or neighbors please contact Amy Crosswhite, our Fair Trade Programs Manager, at [email protected] and help us grow the movement. View the fair trade fee schedule.

 

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.

Buy less, Buy local, buy fair trade

Take a look into 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!