Thoughts on Fair Trade

Many people do not know what "fair trade" means. Fair trade means offering a reasonable amount of money or goods in exchange for other goods. Yes, I do realize that our country has become wealthy and powerful because we take advantage of others. Many people think that is fair because those in poorer countries are willing to do more work for less money. It makes it easier for us to sit back and enjoy our fifty cent cups of coffee if we tell ourselves that these people don't mind doing it. On the other hand, just because a person will work for 23 cents a day does not mean that they should have to. A lot of people get angry with me for boycotting certain items because they were not obtained through fair trade. Everyone is entitled to their personal opinion, but I don't know that it is right to tell someone that their beliefs are wrong because they go against the beliefs of most of the people in the country. That being said, I am finished with my rant.

It is true that many of the things we enjoy, especially food goods, were grown or made by hard-working people in poorer countries who will work for as little as three cents a day. Think about that. What can you get for three cents a day? Some people's life savings will consist of about twenty five dollars. America is a strong and wealthy country. Businesses rely on spending incredibly small amounts of money to get the maximum amount of work done. Here in Dallas, we get a constant barrage of illegal immigrants who stand in groups on roadsides waiting to work for two dollars or less per hour.

Many people choose to buy from companies which promote free trade. Free trade companies often start as ecological organizations or church groups which travel to poorer countries to help the people who live there. Native peoples are taught the value of their land and learn to live in harmony with it rather than slashing and burning for farmland. One shampoo company pays native peoples in South America to gather blossoms from rain forest plants for use in their product. The people are paid fairly for their work and are taught that the land is worth more left in its natural state. Jewelry companies buy the native handmade jewelry made from tropical nuts and seed beads. By paying these people fairly for their beautiful artwork, the people learn that preserving their land is more profitable than destroying it for crops. With the money, these people are able to afford to go to school, buy medicine, and obtain clean, running water.

There are a number of fair trade businesses on the internet. Try doing a search on "fair trade".

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