In a world of developing fashion, a consumer’s purchasing power can be heavily swayed by the price of the product and what is fashionable. While companies have the right to competition, it takes a vigilant consumer to recognize that all products are made by someone. Fair trade advocates ask the question, “Is it ethically responsible to purchase a piece of clothing that may have been made by a woman making 7 cents a day?”
On Sept. 15, La Salle is hosting the second annual Fair Trade Fair during free period to promote and support ethical standards of production. Students are encouraged to walk through the stands and learn more about how they can be more aware of their purchases.
The Fair Trade Federation is one North American organization that is connecting fair trade businesses to resources and customers around the world. FTF defines fair trade as “an approach to business and to development based on dialogue, transparency and respect that seeks to create greater equity in the international trading system.”
Hannah Brough, junior Communication Sciences and Disorders major, is heavily involved in the Fair Trade Fair and has a direct connection to the upcoming event. After traveling to Kenya through Project Mapendo as a L.I.V.E. Program, Brough returned to La Salle feeling uneasy.
“When I got back, I felt hopeless. I wasn’t sure how I could continue to help the people that I had just spent my time with,” says Brough.
She describes the first time she heard about Trades of Hope, an organization that acts as a direct sales associate for vendors around the world.
“My friend tagged me on one of their Instagram posts, and I got goosebumps. After looking into their company, I realized that I wanted to become a Compassionate Entrepreneur.” Brough now works with Trades of Hope to advocate their mission.
Brough also spent a part of her summer in Honduras working with Mi Esperanza, an organization that works directly with women living in extreme poverty and is focused on ending cyclical poverty.
Becoming a fair trade company means a commitment to placing value on talent and supporting craftspeople of developing countries. The Fair Trade Federation has created nine principles of fair trade that member organizations are held accountable for. FTF is also allied with the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) to continue monitoring trade and ethical standards of production.
Another student involved with Fair Trade Fair is Katie Milideo, a junior religion major. She became interested in the fair because of her work with Catholic Relief Services (CRS), and shares the idea that people should be more aware and socially responsible.
“I think that it just makes sense; by supporting fair trade, you are also supporting the seller’s identity and humanity,” said Milideo. She also commented that her involvement in the Religion department helped her to better understand the ethical issues happening all around world.
The fair will take place on the walkway between the tennis courts and the Connelly Library, where vendors will have tables and students will be able to purchase products on local.
Mi Esperanza and Trades of Hope will be two of the seven vendors on campus during the fair.
Brough said, “Many people won’t buy fair trade goods because of the price. Those few extra dollars should not be a deterrent, but a consolation because they walk away knowing the person who made the product is getting paid fairly for his or her work.”