Fair Trade Campaigns Movement on the Rise
Fair Trade Campaigns: A Grassroots Movement on the Rise
Did you know the U.S. consumes 29% of the world’s resources, with only 5% of the world’s population? Crazy, right! Whenever I stumble across facts like this I think of how even a single voice, a single purchase and a single community can hold great power. I remember that you and I can individually make a difference or take things a step further to influence those around us.
At Fair Trade Campaigns we work with thousands of Fair Trade advocates in over 170 communities and campuses across the US who spread the word about Fair Trade. They offer their time and emotion to Fair Trade because it changes lives – including theirs.
So, for the purpose of this article I went ahead and interviewed Natalie Sober, a Fair Trade Campaign Organizer from Boulder, Colorado. Natalie joined Fair Trade Campaigns this summer for a Fair Trade immersion trip in Chiapas and Oaxaca, Mexico. There she traveled with 12 Fair Trade Campaign advocates to meet the faces of Fair Trade.
1. How were you introduced to Fair Trade?
My introduction to Fair Trade was chance. Wandering into Momentum, a Fair Trade store in Boulder, Colorado, I was surrounded by shimmering textiles illuminated by hand-woven lanterns like nothing I’d ever seen. I instantly fell in love with this trading system that empowered people rather than exploited them and put more power back into their hands. Interest awakened, I became a Boulder Organizer for Fair Trade Campaigns, an association that allowed me to transform my passion into advocacy and led me to meet Fair Trade artisans and producers in Mexico. As a yogini, Fair Trade naturally resonated with my views of an interconnected world. What we do doesn’t just touch us – it affects everyone else. This is one of the basic connections Fair Trade takes to heart.
2. How has Fair Trade affected your life? Tell us about a specific moment or revelation.
Fair Trade revolutionized how I think, not only in terms of my purchases but also in deciding what truly matters. Hearing Fair Trade carvers in Arrazola, Mexico, express how thankful they are to be able to afford milk to put in their morning coffee because Fair Trade market access allows them to transform their traditional techniques into artisan careers paints a picture of gratitude we can all relate to. We’re all human and we all desire the same basic things. Clean water and food for our families. Choice in how we want our communities to develop. Freedom to honor our innovation and develop our skills into sustainable employment. A voice. The Mexican coffee farmers we met absolutely beamed with pride, smiles spreading ear to ear, when they spoke of the unique quality of their organic, Fair Trade coffee. They care deeply about what they do, as we should too.
3. How has Fair Trade Campaigns inspired you?
Fair Trade Campaigns inspired me to take action in my community. A lot of consumers don’t realize they have an accessible choice that changes someone else’s life. Adding a name to the conversation helps make that human connection. Saying Josefina from the Manos Zapotecas weaving cooperative in Teotitlan wants to thank YOU for choosing Fair Trade because now her kids can go to school illustrates the impact Fair Trade makes. Hearing the producers’ stories inspires people to take action in their own lives. There are simple changes we can all make, like choosing Fair Trade over conventional when selecting tea or coffee. Seeing the light of understanding come into someone’s eyes as they realize there is an alternative trade option continues to re-inspire me.
4. What kind of potential do you think Fair Trade has in the grand scheme of the world?
Fair Trade has the potential to completely change the trading paradigm and with it the world. When we put resources directly into communities and let the communities decide how they want to use them, we invest in human capital and development. It’s a reciprocal relationship – we get quality products caringly crafted by the human hand, and we stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters around the world. Each person is a spark, and the more of us who ignite, the greater the change will be. You have a choice, I have a choice. We all do. One decision at a time, we build a better world to share.
With the hope that you have been inspired to take part in the Fair Trade movement through a purchase, conversation or campaign we thank Natalie for sharing her thoughts and the team at prAna for believing in Fair Trade.
Remember: Your Community or Institution Can Vote With Its Dollar
2014 marks a year of growth in the Fair Trade Campaigns movement with new campaigns launching for schools and congregations by early spring. It’s the perfect time to go beyond the purchase and inspire others to buy fair.
• Join the Fair Trade Campaigns social media community to learn about Fair Trade and monthly giveaways
• Discover how you can make your town, campus, school or congregation Fair Trade
• Watch and share the story of how your community or campus can make a difference
~ Courtney Lang, National Organizer, Fair Trade Towns USA
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