What is Fair Trade?

Editor's Picks, Our Habitude v May 7, 2015


This Saturday, May 9th, we celebrate World Fair Trade Day!

Fair Trade is an eco tag that we recognize as a socially conscious movement to “help producers in developing countries achieve better trading conditions and to promote sustainability”. But what exactly does that mean?

The World Fair Trade Organization provides 10 principles in which organizations that claim “Fair Trade” must adhere to:

1. Creates Opportunities for Economically Disadvantaged Producers

Enables producers to move from income insecurity and poverty to economic self-sufficiency and ownership

2. Is Transparent and Accountable

Organization is transparent in its management and commercial relations as well as has open communication channels throughout its entire supply chain.

3. Practices Fair Trading

The organization trades with concern for the social, economic and environmental well-being of the producer and does not maximize profit at the expense of these producers. Additionally, the organization recognizes, promotes and protects the cultural identity and traditional skills of the producers as reflected in their designs.

4. Pays a Fair Price

Organization agrees with producer on a fair price that properly compensates them for their time, work and energy. Fair pay also means equal pay for men and women.

5. Ensures no Child Labor nor Forced Labor

Does not exploit children and their well-being, security, educational requirements and need for play. 

6. Does Not Discriminate

Organization does not discriminate on the basis of race, caste, national origin, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, union membership, political affiliation, HIV/Aids status or age.

7. Ensures Good Working Conditions

Organization complies with local and national laws on health and safety and doesn’t over-work their workers.

8. Provides Capacity Building

Organization helps to increase positive developmental impacts for producers by teaching skills and providing capabilities and access to a wider market.

9. Promotes Fair Trade

Organization is honest in its messaging and encourages others to support fair trade.

10. Respects the Environment

Organization does any of the following: uses raw materials from sustainably managed sources; buys locally whenever possible; utilizes production technologies that seek to reduce energy consumption; uses renewable energy where possible, minimizes greenhouse gas emissions; minimizes the impact of their waste stream on the environment; uses pesticide free, organic, recyclable and or biodegradable materials.


Interestingly enough, it was as early as the 1940’s that organizations began to embark on “fair trading”. Today, Fair Trade is well practiced in the UK and becoming more prevalent in the US. Here are some wonderful socially conscious products fairly traded that you can find on EcoHabitude.com:


Leafy Natural Couture – Poncho with Fringe


Leafy Natural Couture has a whole collection produced by a Brazilian community of single mothers in Garopaba. The women dye the fabric and yarn with organic pigments like eucalyptus, mate herb, coffee and plum, before hand spinning the silk materials into crochet pieces. Organic cotton and P.E.T. fabric from recycled bottles are also used in the production of Leafy Natural Couture’s garments.

The Kitchen Imp – Hibiscus Sugar

Kitchen Imp hibiscus sugar

Seattle-based food artisan The Kitchen Imp combines natural, organic and fair trade ingredients in all their products. This vibrant pink sugar is an organic mixture of ground hibiscus flower and Fair Trade certified sugar! It is recommended to be used in cocktails or tea – as the magenta hue flourishes and saturates in liquids.

Transcend – Shibori Pillow 

Transcend Shibori Pillow

Transcend works justly with a small group of women in Rajasthan, India who craft artisan pillows. The pillows, dyed and sewn in their very own homes, are made out of locally sourced cotton and non-toxic vegetable dyes. The sales from these pillows online and in the US make up the fair salaries of these women in Rajasthan


EST WST Collective – Terai Rucksack

Est Wst Rucksack

EST WST Collective has an extremely ethical and low-impact production process and business model. Constructed in heavy canvas, EST WST rucksacks are woven from 100% organic, azo-free cotton grown in South India. In addition to adhering to fair trade with a community in South India, a percentage of each sale is donated to their very own Rural Development Fund, predominantly contributing to underprivileged communities in Nepal and India.


Onurth Organic Skincare – Facial Serums


Made from fair trade certified, organic, cold pressed and essential oils, Onurth Organic has a facial treatment serum for just about anyone. Beyond their relationship with various fair trade programs, Onurth Organic uses only recyclable and biodegradable packaging, as well as organic and natural ingredients.


Ala Mairi – Ranya Scarf

Ala Marai

Ala Mairi scarves are luxuriously ethical and suitably exotic. This one is 100% silk crushed velvet, hand dyed by skilled artisans in Rawalpindo, and include traditional embroidery of an Indian style using Dabka. The woven center piece is handmade by Scottish artisans residing in Perthshire, using handlooms and antique materials.

For more of our Fair Trade favs, check out the Pinterest board here:


Follow Ecohabitude’s board World Fair Trade Day 2015 on Pinterest.


andrea-photo-1Andrea Plell is EcoHabitude’s Director of Communications and the Editor-in-Chief of the EcoHabitude blog. Since 2007, Andrea has been on a mission to support a paradigm shift in the fashion industry. She currently runs her own PR and ethical fashion production company in San Francisco, CA.

Follow Andrea on instagram.


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