Green America: Growing the Green Economy for People and the Planet

Fair Trade

Economic action to create a just global economy for farmers and artisans

**Download Green America's Fair Trade and the Environment Flyer, produced in honor of World Fair Trade Day: For the People, For the Planet**

Standards for Crafts

Non-food commodities, like textiles, ceramics, and other crafts, can bear the Fair Trade name. Find where to buy Fair Trade crafts in the U.S. The following guidelines are set by International Fair Trade Association as environmental standards for Fair Trade artisans:

Sustainable Materials:

  • The producer should maximize the use of raw materials from sustainable sources.
  • Materials should be sourced locally when possible.
  • Use of recycled or easily biodegradable materials is encouraged.

Production:

  • Production should be done in a manner which does not harm the environment.
  • The organization promotes the use of technology that respects the environment as well as reduces energy consumption, and creates awareness of environmental hazards.

Distribution:

  • Recycled or easily biodegradable materials are used for packing.
  • Goods are dispatched by sea wherever possible.

 

Craft Cooperative Profile - Environmental Standards

Mapepa, Hand Made Papers of Africa - Zimbabwe

Hand Made Papers of Africa, or Mapepa in the native language, was started in 1991 to support community development and environmental awareness through small-scale paper production in Zimbabwe. Villagers in communities throughout the country are trained in the ancient art of papermaking and use simple tools for their craft.

The paper is made from indigenous plant fibers that grow wild in the area. Mapepa teaches the workers to collect plant residues that are local, renewable, and plentiful. Minimizing the effect on the natural habitat is a main principle of production.

In addition, each sheet is made from 100% cellulosic plant fiber, which is lignin and acid-free. No chemicals or other inputs such as glues and colorings are necessary in the production. This not only protects the environment from harmful chemicals but also the individual workers and communities as a whole.

The resulting paper is suitable for writing and printing and is of archival quality. In addition to standard paper, Mapepa also produces wallpaper, lamp shades, picture frames, candles, place mats, and herbal and botanical soaps.

 

Food Commodity Standards

The Fair Trade Certified™ label requires use of practices that promote soil conservation, water conservation, reforestation, species diversity, and environmental education. The standards also promote organic practices by prohibiting genetically modified organisms and certain agrochemicals. The following guidelines have been established by the Fair Trade Labeling Organization (FLO) and its domestic body, Transfair USA, for use by producers. All farmer cooperatives that produce Fair Trade Certified™ products have designed and implemented an internal cooperative plan for monitoring of these standards. Find where to buy Fair Trade Commodities in the U.S.

Fair Trade Certified™ environmental standards include:

Land and Soil

  • A plan should be developed to ensure that the current and projected use of land is sustainable from an ecological, social, and economic perspective.
  • Records are maintained that include land usage, agricultural diversity, crop rotation, and water usage.
  • Producers must adopt basic principles to prevent erosion and enhance fertility, such as tillage, irrigation and crop rotation, with a system of monitoring and evaluating compliance.
  • Intercropping, the practice of planting a variety of crops in one area, is encouraged.  Cultivation and harvesting should be done in a manner that maintains diversity of the species.
  • Fire is only used to clear or prepare land when it is the preferred ecological option.

Water

  • Buffer zones are maintained as required to protect water bodies, watershed recharge areas, virgin forests, and/or other legally protected areas and to protect agricultural plots from potentially polluting sources such as roads.
  • Producers must use irrigation techniques to minimize water consumption like drip irrigation or water application direct to the root zone.

Forests

  • New planting in virgin forests is prohibited.
  • Cultivated areas within the farm should be regenerated with natural flora and fauna to promote agricultural diversification.
  • Producers cannot gather material from protected areas, and material gathered from wild, uncultivated areas must be done sustainability, ensuring long-term viability of native species.

Organic Conversion

  • Producers must present a plan for converting farming practices to follow more organic standards.
  • The recycling of resources in terms of composting, mulching, and other crop residue reuse must be practiced whenever possible and in the most sustainable ways.
  • Organic waste that is contaminated with chemicals is disposed of safely and away from other crops, water, and livestock.

Agrochemicals

  • Agrochemicals on the FLO Prohibited List may not be used, sold, handled, or distributed by the producer organization.
  • Producers must safely use, store, and dispose of all agrochemicals and their containers, and cannot air-spray agrochemicals over buffer zones, residential areas, rivers, and other significant water sources.
  • Agrochemicals are used only when absolutely necessary, and producer organizations must continuously work to reduce their use and toxicity level.
  • A written record is kept of all agrochemicals purchased, used, and disposed of.
  • The use of permitted herbicides must be accompanied by written evidence showing that there is no available alternative treatment, as well as a plan to reduce or eliminate their use in the future as much as possible.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

  • Producers cannot grow GMOs, or use products derived from GMOs in primary production or processing.
  • Producers must monitor possible GMO usage by neighbors, and take additional precautions to protect their crops or seeds from contamination.

 

Rice Cooperative Profile - Environmental Standards

Rice Fund, a Fair Trade project in Surin, Thailand
Profile provided by: FLO

This 45-member rice cooperative is located in the north eastern part of Thailand. Fair Trade has not only benefited the co-op members but also the surrounding environment.

Extra income provided by the Fair Trade certification is used to support educational, cultural and environmental projects in the area, such as planting trees in the community forest. During weekends, children plant trees and learn how to care for their environment. The forest in turn benefits the community by providing wood, fruit, and other crops.

Kanya Osori describes the impact that diversification of crops has had on farmers' lives. As a result of environmental education through Fair Trade, Kanya is now not only growing rice, but also organic peanuts and various fruit and vegetables which she sells on the local market. The extra earnings have drastically benefited Kanya's financial situation. "With this extra money I am able to send my two daughters to high school and plan for unforeseen circumstances, something impossible before" says Kanya.

Diversification does not only have a financial impact on the lives of members' families, it also allows them to stay together in the village. In the past, since the rice farmers depended on only one crop a year, most of the families had to go to the city during the dry season to earn extra money. This meant that entire families would be separated for half of the year. "Crop diversification and organic farming now allow us to work in our villages the whole year round, and give us the chance to feed ourselves and keep our families together" adds Kanya. Through Fair Trade, the Rice Fund Surin members are not dependent on fluctuating rice prices any longer; they are now exporting directly and have a certain degree of stability and independence. Being in charge of their own lives and destiny they are not obliged to live for the moment any longer, but can consciously plan for their own and the following generations' future.


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