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Ms. Maxine Rubin
Freelance journalist

Contributor to Concerned Consumers and Elabel

"Why supporting Fairtrade allows us to be change-makers?
Often the products we purchase are not in line with our personal ethical standards. Unknowingly, we could be supporting practices we would otherwise not endorse. Many of us cannot spend hours researching the practices of producers in order to make an informed decision about who we support with our purchasing power. It is ideal to have a body that does this on our behalf and makes ethical products easily identifiable, allowing us to place our economic support behind consumables that we know are in line with our value systems. This is effectively what Fairtrade does for us as consumers. They ensure that each step in the production process meets their standards (listed on their website) before putting their stamp on it.

There are reasons beyond one’s ethical preferences for why it is important to support Fairtrade, one of which is the opportunity it enables us to contribute to the development of the people involved in producing the goods we are buying. Fairtrade ensures that workers operate in a fair environment in order for them to earn a sustainable income. Not only are you supporting goods, which are environmentally sustainable and free of exploitative labour practices, but you are also contributing in a significant way to the empowerment of these workers and their families. This can lead to positive change in many communities, and therefore facilitates social transformation at this level.

Fairtrade has a strict monitoring process to hold these producers to account. This means that there is thorough and ongoing supervision to ensure that consumers are not being misled by producers who claim to be in line with ethical practices; meanwhile they are simply using buzzwords in order to make a few extra sales at no additional cost to themselves. This is where a middle party like Fairtrade is crucial for us as consumers: to ensure that we are not exploited. Their rigorous monitoring system guarantees that we are genuinely able to practice our moral ideals as consumers.

We have a lot of power in setting production norms by simply choosing the products we purchase, and thereby support. By placing our support behind Fairtrade we are making our voice heard and demanding that ethical practices become this norm. At this very basic level, we can ensure that our moral preferences are ensured. This is the power behind buying Fairtrade. We are telling producers that, as their customers, we will not compromise on the standards we expect for ethical and sustainable environmental and human inputs.

This is especially fundamental in a developing nation: we have the power to put our money and our voice behind the products, which allow for genuine social upliftment simply by purchasing Fairtrade."