With Earth Day quickly approaching, I feel compelled to connect the dots between Fair Trade and our Earth. Earth Day encourages greater awareness of both our planet and the forces that threaten its health and future. Fair Trade encourages not only respect for the producers but respect for the environment that produces many of the products that we rely on, purchase and consume.
[Healdsburg High School will be sponsoring their Eleventh Annual Earth Day Festival in the Healdsburg Plaza on Saturday, April 20 from 11 – 5.]
Fair Trade is based on several principles that Fair Trade Organizations must follow in their day-to-day work and monitor to ensure that these principles are upheld. One of these principles, “Respect for the Environment”, is defined as follows from the World Fair Trade Organization or WFTO:
Organizations which produce Fair Trade products maximize the use of raw materials from sustainably managed sources in their ranges, buying locally when possible. They use production technologies that seek to reduce energy consumption and where possible use renewable energy technologies that minimize greenhouse gas emissions. They seek to minimize the impact of their waste stream on the environment. Fair Trade agricultural commodity producers minimize their environmental impacts, by using organic or low pesticide use production methods wherever possible.
As a proud member of the Fair Trade Federation, our entire supply chain is to “Cultivate Environmental Stewardship”. That is, to offer current generations the ability to meet their needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Producers must actively consider the implications of their decisions on the environment and promote the responsible stewardship of resources.
No doubt that if you have browsed a Fair Trade shop you have noticed how the artisans reuse, reclaim, and recycle materials wherever possible. Fair Trade encourages environmentally sustainable practices throughout the entire trading chain. This not only makes for beautifully creative products, but a beautiful
planet as well.
For social and environmental responsibility, we can, and should purchase locally grown produce as much as possible. But the truth is that we rely on many products not grown locally, such as coffee, tea, chocolate, bananas, coconuts, and the list continues. Shea Butter, Coconut Oil, Cottonseed Oil and Palm Oil are used in the making of soaps and many cosmetics we use.
According to Fair Trade USA, for Fair Trade Certified products, the most toxic chemicals are not used and there are no GMOs. Fair Trade organizations develop a strategic approach to integrated pest management, the safe use and handling of agrochemicals, responsible waste management, protection of soil and water and biodiversity, and reduction of energy and greenhouse gas emissions.
Fair Trade not only cares for the producers, it cares for the planet and its growing. An estimated 30% of Fair Trade farmer organizations invest their premiums for community development into initiatives such as reforestation, water
conservation, environmental education and organic certification. In fact, over
half of all Fair Trade imports into the U.S. are certified organic.
When we think of preserving our planet there are so many small changes we can make, small changes in habits that have a positive impact on real people, animals and beautiful places. So, the next time you shut off all the lights in the house, grab that re-usable shopping bag and water bottle and hop on your bike to the market, you can look for that Fair Trade label and know you have taken one more step to respect our planet. By stepping up and making changes in our everyday habits and changes in the way we purchase, we can make a difference.
Although Earth Day 2013 is officially recognized on April 22nd, the Healdsburg High School will be sponsoring their Eleventh Annual Earth Day Festival in the Healdsburg Plaza on Saturday, April 20th from 11 – 5. If last year was any indication, this year’s event will be another great day that goes beyond high school and embraces community. This family-friendly, multi-cultural celebration will feature powerful speakers and wonderful entertainers celebrating our planet and the people who inhabit it.