The Connection Between Planet and People
The link between planet and people shapes our present realities and future opportunities. Our livelihoods depend on our planet’s wellbeing, and our planet’s wellbeing relies on our commitment to protect it.
Embracing this interconnection drives impact. Fair Trade USA™ helps businesses show leadership and win consumer trust by having a positive impact on environmental and social issues. With the fair trade model, businesses can uplift communities and facilitate long-term sustainable sourcing – where coconut farmers in the Philippines are safe during typhoon season and Mexican produce feeds the U.S. and Mexico.
We envision a future where we all recognize the connections between planet and people and integrate sustainability into how individuals, companies, and communities operate.
Business goals and sustainable sourcing go hand-in-hand. For businesses to sell quality products, we must protect the planet that grows them and the livelihoods of the people that produce them. Farmers, fishers, and production workers are some of the most vulnerable populations when it comes to climate change, which is one of the reasons why supply chain resiliency must start at the producer level.
Fair Trade USA’s standards foster sustainable production practices that preserve the environment, enhance resilience to climate change, and protect the health and quality of life of producers and their communities. Our approach is aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and outlines how businesses can prosper and protect the planet. SDG 12 calls upon businesses and consumers to make sustainable decisions.
When consumers see a Fair Trade Certified™ label, they can trust that it was made according to rigorous social, environmental, and economic standards that protect the livelihoods of farmers, fishers, and other producer communities. In fact, 66% of consumers recognize the Fair Trade Certified label and 1 in 3 feel it’s essential to their purchase.
One of the ways fair trade ensures that producers have agency is through Community Development Funds, which are additional sums of money that industry and brand partners pay to producers of fair trade products. These funds unlock the ability of farmers and workers to invest in development projects that address their community’s greatest needs, such as access to clean water, education, housing, and healthcare.
Solar Energy in India
The Accuarte Weave Pvt Ltd rug factory in Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh, North India, where most of the workers reside in rural villages surroundingis a great example.
Electricity is limited in the area to around 11 hours a day. Workers’ children struggle to complete schoolwork in the evening. In the summer, when temperatures soar to 104 – 117 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s impossible for families to get a restful night sleep without a fan to stay cool.
Against that challenging backdrop, workers voted to use the Community Development Fund to stabilize and extend their electricity access. They considered the environmental impact of each option before deciding to install a solar panel and battery system in June of 2021.
This project garnered regional recognition in the news and may inspire other communities to implement solar energy solutions.
Combating Deforestation with Sustainable Mango Production in Haiti
In Haiti, smallholders produce mangoes for Perry Exports on fair trade terms. However, supporting their families on mango production alone is challenging.
Many smallholders began to cut down their mango trees to sell wood on the local charcoal market — the primary source for of fuel for heating and cooking. Deforestation for firewood has become a major issue in Haiti, both for the environment and local communities.
These mango farmers, many of whom are women, voted to use the Community Development Fund to support reforestation and production with a tree nursery. Now, farmers can plant new mango seedlings and stop cutting down existing trees, which play an important role in sequestering carbon, tempering their local climate, and stabilizing soils in the earthquake-prone region.
The Community Development Fund not only helps to combat deforestation, but it boosted the income of the fair trade farming families. It was such a success that the work has been ongoing in various communities.
Idalma Placide has been a part of the fair trade mango program in Haiti since its inception. She helps coordinate the mango sales from member producers to Perry Exports. Idalma is excited for the mango program to grow and continue supporting the development of mango producer communities.
Other popular uses of fair trade premiums in Haiti include literacy programs, scholarships for children, critical infrastructure, and wells that bring potable water to communities without access. In 2015, Haitian communities benefited from over $59,000 earned in premiums from Whole Food Market purchases.
Paul Enock, mango producer and member of the Fair Trade Committee in his community, has been participating in the fair trade program for 4 years. He now owns twelve mango trees. Paul also led infrastructure efforts in the area, delivering projects like a new staircase that reduced the number of accidents on the mountainside where the mango fields grow.
When asked about the impact of his community’s fair trade program, Paul said, “The fair trade program has really been helping us a lot – we can now make a living from selling our mangoes and do not have to cut the trees down [to make charcoal]. The Fair Trade Premiums have also really supported our communities – for example, one of our projects was to build a staircase behind the collection center and it has helped many producers have easier access to deliver their mangoes. And people who live at the top do not fall down and get hurt on the hill anymore because they have a safe way to get around.”
Fair trade gives communities the power to shape their future. Community Development Funds address real challenges and prevent the pitfalls of price swings, natural disasters, climate change, and more.