BY GUEST BLOGGER | December 14, 2015
Written by Finian McNulty, Loyola Academy Class of 2018
WILMETTE, IL – Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Illinois, has become the first Jesuit high school to receive fair trade certification from Fair Trade Campaigns. Loyola is the 17th high school in the U.S. to receive the certification. Fair Trade Campaigns is a grassroots movement whose mission is to empower schools, communities, and universities to buy from companies whose products are created fairly and safely.
There are several fair trade organizations that offer verification of fair trade companies. To achieve this distinction, Loyola had to create a student committee, conduct awareness campaigns to educate the school on how fair trade is involved in their everyday lives, and offer products in the cafeteria and the bookstore that have been certified fair trade by organizations such as Fair Trade USA and Fairtrade International. Products that conform to fair trade criteria give workers protections against exploitation as well as opportunities to break free from poverty.
Loyola’s Fair Trade Committee began their mission to become fair trade certified last year by publicizing the issue during a week of displays and discussion in theology classes promoting fair trade awareness, as well as an educational booth at the Earth Day Fair. The committee encouraged students and teachers to buy products that are fair trade certified, and to recognize that many popular companies are not.
The committee went beyond simple promotion and took action by offering fair trade products at the bookstore and cafeteria. Not everything in the bookstore is fair trade, but thanks to the support of the Loyola Store staff and the presence of signage indicating the option to choose fair trade apparel, fair trade products such as the shirts from Alta Gracia have been flying off the shelves. The committee hopes that in the future, students will choose to only purchase fair trade products in the bookstore.
The certification further advances the school’s Jesuit motto of being “women and men for others.” By choosing fair trade products, we help protect the environment and create opportunities for marginalized producers.