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Fair trade is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world. By requiring companies to pay sustainable prices (which must never fall lower than the market price), Fair trade addresses the injustices of conventional trade, which traditionally discriminates against the poorest, weakest producers. It enables them to improve their position and have more control over their lives.
Unfortunately in the standard trade process, the producer (e.g. the farmer or craftsmen) is often under-paid for their product. This leaves them unable to survive, as the cost of production and materials are more than what they receive. Ultimately they do not have enough money to live off or support their own families.
The conditions to which the workers are exposed are often also unfair. They are given few or no workers rights, and are forced to work long hours with no access to facilities, such as running water or toilets.
Fair trade supports social development projects, such as the building of schools and health centres, and therefore improves the lives of some of the poorest and most disadvantaged people in the world.
It highlights the unequal system of world trade, and supports simple human rights, such as decent working conditions, eliminating the use of forced or exploitative child labour.
It encourages gender equality, by encouraging women to work, and ensuring they are treated and paid the same as men.
Fair trade encourages environmental responsibility and sustainability, and often lends to more natural and organic means of production, thereby reducing the impact on the environment.
Supporting fair trade enables you to contribute to developing countries. When you buy a fair trade product you are standing up for basic human rights and sending the message that it is not acceptable to ignore the human rights of producers who suffer from the conventional trading system. Ultimately by supporting fair trade you are making a difference to the lives of others, and therefore making the world a better place.
'Fairtrade' (one word) refers to the mark given by the Fairtrade Foundation to products they can verify adhere to strict Fairtrade standards. Not all fairly traded products carry the Fairtrade mark.
'Fair Trade' (two words) refers to products or organisations that are Fair Trade or fairly traded and are certified by fair trade organisations other than the Fairtrade Foundation. This term is also used to refer to the wider Fair Trade movement and to the Fair Trade Nation campaigns.
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