Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Understanding Fair Trade Labels

I have engaged in many conversations about fair trade over the years and on more than one occasion questions about fair trade certification has come up. Since the topic of certification is such a large and involved topic I won’t spend time here trying to answer all of the questions that I have heard.  However, I would like to refer you to the Fair Trade Resource Network, which has several webinars on its website targeting the ins and outs of the Fair Trade Certifying process.

In this blog entry I would like to present the labels that consumers should keep an eye out for when looking for Fair Trade. While there may be many vendors selling fairly traded or direct trade items, Fair Trade San Diego is unable to hold those vendors accountable to the principles of Fair Trade.  Therefore, we promote items that are certified with the following organization and therefore held to the standards of fair trade put forth by each certifier. Fair Trade San Diego encourages vendors to consider having their fairly traded items certified with the following organizations as well.

Read more here for an explanation of labels.

Fair Trade USA’s Fair Trade Label – Fair Trade USA certifies many Fair Trade items in the United States. Such items include, but are not limited to, chocolate, tea, coffee, some clothing, ice cream etc. 

Fair-trade Labeling Organization – The Fair-trade Labeling Organization or FLO is the major Fair Trade labeling organization of Fair Trade goods in Europe.  At times one could see this label on items sold in the United States, for example at local British purveyors All Things Bright and British and at the UK Cornershoppe at Shakespeare Pub. However, this label would only be found in the USA on items that are certified Fair Trade in Europe but not in the USA.

Fair Trade Federation Label – The Fair Trade Federation ensures that crafts and other artisan goods are fair trade in the United States.  For example, jewelry, baskets, scarves and purses are just a few of the items that can be found with the Fair Trade Federation label.

IMO Fair for Life Label – IMO Fair for Life began certifying Fair Trade items in 2006 and is therefore relatively newer than the other Fair Trade certifiers.  The Fair for Life logo can be found on such products as those sold by Equal Exchange and Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap.

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