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Consumerism With A Conscience

Designed to create better balance and equality in international trade, Fair Trade home furnishings such as hand sewn rugs or carved wood table lamps are becoming increasingly popular amongst stylish but discerning homeowners. Fair Trade home products contribute to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to disadvantaged producers and workers in developing countries with the aim of improving their lives and alleviating poverty.

Now representing of a significant percentage of global trade, Fair Trade began small through handicrafts sold by Oxfam in the 1950’s. Later in the 70’s the first Fair Trade coffee was developed and ‘Trade not Aid’ became a well know slogan for the fight against poverty. In 1979 Traidcraft plc started selling Fair Trade products and has been growing ever since. In 1997 the Fairtrade International label was introduced which helped Fair Trade to reach the high streets with its many different commodities such as coffee, tea, bananas and an ever expanding range of products.
Due to the increased popularity of non commodity goods such as handicrafts and home décor, governing body IFAT was established in 2004 to actively support producers of Fair Trade goods and raise awareness and campaign for changes in the rules and practises of conventional international trade.

The main Principles of IFAT are broken into 10 points:

1. Create opportunity for the economically disadvantaged
2. Transparent relations with traders to work on equal respect.
3. Develop producer’s capacity and independence.
4. Promote justice where there are unfair trade rules.
5. Pay a fair price.
6. Ensure there is gender equality
7. Ensure there is a safe and healthy working environment.
8. Ensure Child Labour rights are respected under UN, local and social norms.
9. Promote environmentally friendly practises and responsible methods of production.
10. Trade with concern for producers and build long term respectful relationships.

To be sure your money is being put towards the abolishment of unfair trading, it is always best to shop with companies who source their goods from IFAT accredited producers.One such company is Benson World Imports who state on their website “Benson World Imports is proud to work with individual artists and small businesses from around the world to bring exotic home furnishings at reasonable prices. We do our best to ensure the individual artists are treated fairly and the products are eco-friendly. Our most recent relationship is with a community that has been protecting the environment for hundreds of years.”

By choosing Fair Trade companies such as Bensons you can help poor communities support themselves and demonstrate that Fair Trade practises can be beneficial both economically and personally to all people involved. It is essential that you do not get disheartened by the “I’m only one man” attitude. As consumers and members of a developed society we have the power to make a huge difference to the lives of people less fortunate. As an individual you can buy Fair Trade products in your supermarket, local Fair Trade shop and consider where your products come from and consciously buy from ethical retailers.

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