This time of year, many of us are thinking about giving more—volunteering at our local soup kitchen, giving to charities, donating coats for kids, buying toys for tots. Did you know that just by choosing certain brands you are contributing as well?

Choosing companies that are Fair Trade is one great way to help give back. Here’s a definition of Fair Trade from Equal Exchange’s website:

Fair Trade is a way of doing business that ultimately aims to keep small farmers an active part of the world marketplace, and aims to empower consumers to make purchases that support their values. Fair Trade is a set of business practices voluntarily adopted by the producers and buyers of agricultural commodities and hand-made crafts that are designed to advance many economic, social and environmental goals, including:

  • Raising and stabilizing the incomes of small-scale farmers, farm workers, and artisans
  • More equitably distributing the economic gains, opportunities and risks associated with the production and sale of these goods
  • Increasing the organizational and commercial capacities of producer groups
  • Supporting democratically owned and controlled producer organizations
  • Promoting labor rights and the right of workers to organize
  • Promoting safe and sustainable farming methods and working conditions
  • Connecting consumers and producers
  • Increasing consumer awareness and engagement with issues affecting producers

We often think more about fair trade when it comes to coffee and chocolate, but more and more companies, crops and goods are becoming Fair Trade Certified. Companies such as Alaffia, Dr. Bronner’s, Andes Gifts, Global Mamas, Handmade Expressions, Bali and Soul, Tera’s Whey, Frontier Coop, Aura Cacia, Eco Teas, Rishi Teas—all have incorporated Fair Trade ingredients or practices.

The following are companies whose products we sell at the Co-op that give in other ways, definitely not an all inclusive list:

  • Alaffia: This Cooperative is focused not only on creating premium, Fair Trade, natural skin care, but also on community empowerment and gender equality. Their projects include: Bicycles for Education: Collecting used bicycles to give to disadvantaged students in Togo so that they can get to and from school; Maternal Health: Provide pre- and post-natal care to women in central Togo and help reduce maternal death rates; School Supplies and Repairs: Donates metal roofs, seats, and school supplies to schools in rural Togo to help communities educate their youth; Reforestation and Environment: Combat effects of climate change and deforestation by planting trees and building home biogas units.     
  • New Chapter: This supplement company gives 10% or more of their after-tax profits are donated to the conservation of tropical rain forests.
  • Sir Richards: For every Sir Richard’s condom purchased, they donate one to a developing country. Whenever they make a donation, they design an entirely new brand and ensure its cultural relevance with help and guidance from local artists, health care providers, and others. Sir Richard’s inaugural contribution of 500,000 condoms arrived in Haiti on September 11th, 2012.
  • Aura Cacia Organics: Aromatherapy-based body care Cooperative. They donate 1% of their sales of organic essential oils to support farmers and their communities.
  • Inner-Eco: Probiotic coconut waters. Donates a portion of their proceeds to the S.T.O.P. (Slavery That Oppresses People) campaign, which works to secure freedom, food, medical care and education to the people of Sudan, Africa and anywhere else in the world where persecution and oppression is prevalent. This organization has raised enough money to free tens of thousands of slaves in southern Sudan.
  • Yahara House Art Cards: Beautiful, original art prints on blank cards. The sales go towards Yahara House, a non-profit clubhouse founded in 1986 here in Madison. Yahara House offers adults with mental illness a path to recover through relationships and work. All cards are created, printed and packaged by members.
  • Vitamin Angels: Their mission is to mobilize and deploy private sector resources to advance availability, access and use of micro nutrients, especially vitamin A, among at-risk populations in need. They reduce child mortality worldwide by connecting essential nutrients with infants and children under five. Essential nutrients enable young immune systems to fight infectious diseases, helping children attain good health and the opportunity to lead meaningful and productive lives. There are several companies who are partners that provide funding or supplements. The ones we carry include Garden of Life, Rainbow Light, Emergen-C, Spectrum, Boiron, and Radius.
  • REAP Food Group: This non-profit creates local food and sustainability programs. You can support this organization by purchasing the Wisconsin Local Foods Journal and the Where the Locavores Go Coupon Book.
  • Shanthilmalai Nag Champa: Incense in the red box! This wonderful Nag Champa directly benefits a public charitable organization—Shanthimalai Research & Development Trust. This trust serves the inhabitants of an impoverished region of Tamil Nadu, South India and offers training and employment for disadvantaged women.
  • Malia Designs: Gifts. This company was formed to increase economic opportunity for women in developing countries, and to support local and international non-profit organizations that fight human trafficking in Southeast Asia.
  • From Asparagus to Zucchini: This wonderful, essential cookbook benefits the Fairshare CSA Coalition, which is a non-profit organization promoting the production and consumption of fresh, local, and sustainable foods.

Many of us are conscientious about how our food choices effect the environment and what we put in our bodies. Becoming aware of how the companies that produce the products we buy work for social justice is another way to enrich our global community.
Equal Exchange

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