As Christmas draws closer and closer, and the anxiety of gift buying grows greater and greater, we start to think any present will do. Just rush into that big box store and grab the first corporate logo’d set of headphones or gym shoes you find. But when we stop thinking about where our gifts come from we halt any concern we have over how they are made, and it affects those who make it. We wanted to look at fair trade gifts and, as such, have teamed up with AngelShare to do so!
WHAT IS FAIR TRADE?
But this year could be different. This year, why not try fair trade gifts? Fair trade products are those where fair market value has been assigned to everyone who works on a product. From the farmers who grew the cotton to the workers who stitched the clothing, fair trade means that everyone was compensated justly for their efforts.
WHY IT’S BETTER
Everyone is affected by how goods and services are made. In the United States, the Supreme Court just decided that temporary employees at Amazon packing facilities (which are the only kind of employees they hire) do not have the right to be paid for the thirty minutes they spend waiting in line for a security officer to search them for stolen goods. In an effort to keep prices down, Amazon is unwilling to pay those working in squalid conditions for the additional time they are required to spend in their factories. Corporations are constantly moving overseas where labour laws are far more relaxed than in the UK, and where they can exploit that cheap labour to make products that keep their bottom line low.
HOW THIS CHANGES
These corporations make much of their money during the fourth quarter of the fiscal year, where Christmas shoppers are eager to buy cheaply and efficiently. But rarely do people think about the greater costs involved in how these products are priced the way they are. Unfortunately these corporations only see moral issues through the lens of their bank accounts, and they will continue to exploit labour conditions in third world countries until they are given a reason not to.
In this way, buying fair trade for Christmas has two major advantages. First, for the consumer, is the peace of mind knowing that they are buying unique presents that were created under fair conditions. But more importantly, buying fair trade Christmas gifts takes money out of the hands of corporations exploiting unfair, third world labour laws. Eventually the bottom line will shift and companies will understand that cheap at any cost is not a sustainable worldview.
Another advantage of buying fair trade is your role in lifting the communities that are directly impacted by the products made there. Most fair trade goods come from disadvantaged communities who are taught to use the free market to their advantage. Purchasing fair trade Christmas gifts goes a long way in helping improve the communities in which they are produced.
This Christmas you can shop at the bargain box store, where everything looks the same and was made with nothing but the bottom line in mind, or you can shop for unique fair trade goods with communities in mind.