BY PARKER TOWNLEY | October 24, 2013
October is Fair Trade Month. Non-profits, faith-based groups, companies, and advocates around the country are busy holding events, highlighting successes, and educating their communities.
While many of us won’t attend an event, or even realize what is going on, we all can share in the values that guide the Fair Trade movement. Fair Trade Month offers an opportunity to take a step back and remind the world about the continued need Fair Trade in an increasingly globalized and inter-connected world. Recent tragedies like the April collapse of a garment-factory in Bangladesh (which left over 1,000 dead) highlight the failure of business to value humanity at all levels of the supply chain. Even more disturbing is news that the global divide between rich and poor, already daunting, continues to grow.
However not all news is negative. Over the past few decades Fair Trade has grown to benefit millions of farmers, workers, and artisans around the world. Changing consumer opinions, and more importantly purchasing habits, have resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars reinvested into producer communities. Meanwhile these changes have caught the attention of companies large and small, with recent commitments coming from potential game-changers like Hershey’s and Patagonia.
Finally on the ground the Fair Trade movement remains strong. Allies like Oxfam America, Catholic Relief Services, Global Exchange and Green America have helped to highlight concerns and elevate the message of Fair Trade to the next level. In the meantime advocacy groups like Fair Trade Towns USA and Fair Trade Colleges and Universities are working to educate consumers and incorporate principles of social justice, economic sustainability, and environmental stewardship into the moral fabric of our society. For all of these groups Fair Trade Month has helped to galvanize support through numerous programs and campaigns.
Luckily, there’s still time (one more week) to get active and advocate! Here are a few ways you can get involved:
- Learn up and educate with the Go Bananas for Fair Trade Campaign
- Start a Fair Trade campaign on your campus at www.FairTradeUniversities.org
- Take the ‘Be Fair’ Quiz and learn about the benefits of Fair Trade from Fair Trade USA
- View a Fair Trade Month Activity Calendar and gain access to other resources from Fair Trade America
- Read up on how the biggest corporations compare with Behind the Brands from Oxfam America
Still in need of an option? Buy some Fair Trade chocolate for Halloween! The beauty of Fair Trade is that even through small changes (like buying Fair Trade chocolate) we can effect great change. So this Fair Trade month think about how you can help build impact both on a personal level and within your community.
Parker Townley is a national organizer at Fair Trade College and Universities.
Parker is a national organizer for Fair Trade Colleges & Universities. He developed an understanding and deep respect for farm workers and artisans while spending a year abroad in Central America. He has a passion for social and environmental justice, guiding him to pursue and earn a BA in Latin American Studies and Environmental Studies from Gonzaga University. While at Gonzaga Parker worked to develop and implement a sustainability program for on campus dining services.
Parker joined Fair Trade Colleges and Universities to help connect students and faculty with the resources they need to effectively campaign for Fair Trade on campus. In his free time Parker explores the Sierra Nevadas with his trusty backpack, roams the Bay Area in search of the perfect cup of coffee, and cultivates a small veggie garden.