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    No Sustainability Without Fair Trade

    Last Saturday was World Fair Trade Day, and it prompted some discussion of how fair trade overlaps with environmental sustainability.

    Fair trade: a movement whose goal is to help producers in developing countries get a fair price for their products, reduce poverty and worker exploitation, and reinvest in their communities.

    Sustainably made products usually refer to those made of materials from environmentally sound sources and produced by companies that operate with the smallest possible environmental footprint. That definition would not necessarily encompass fair trade, but the truth is that caring for the environment without caring for the people involved is not sustainable. Both the environmental focus and the human focus require the same, thoughtful way of doing business.

    This new way of doing business asks that we measure the cost of producing goods and services not only in dollars, but in costs to the environment (sustainability) and human communities (fair trade) involved in the production process. This is referred to as the triple bottom line (as TriplePundit.com defines it: people, planet, profit).

    Business can be a force for good if we just demand it (as in supply and demand), not by signing petitions and carrying protest signs, but by consciously changing what we buy. The real problem is … us. We seem to want lots of stuff, and we don’t seem to care about the environmental and human costs of making our stuff, as long as it’s cheap.

    The good news is that there are plenty of great alternatives that we can switch to – and more of them all the time. If we stop buying goods that are cheap because the savings were taken out of workers’ hides or out of our shared environmental inheritance, business will stop making them.

    It’s that simple. You and I can force business to do better just by buying sustainably, fairly produced products. Everything we buy is a vote – either for a cleaner, fairer world or for business as usual.

    GreenerDailyLife.com exists to help us find better alternatives.

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