Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Fair Trade in Milwaukee

Listening to Wisconsin Public Radio this morning, I was extremely pleased to hear that the Milwaukee Common Council has just passed a "fair trade city" resolution, making Milwaukee the first major city in the US to do so.

There are already a number of businesses that offer fair trade goods in and around Milwaukee, so having the support of the whole city is a huge boon. Hopefully this resolution will be a spring board for greater education about what fair trade is and means to a community, and also to more widespread adoption of the practice.

Being "Fair Trade Certified" ensures that:

...strict economic, social and environmental criteria were met in the production and trade of an agricultural product. Fair Trade Certification is currently available in the U.S. for coffee, tea and herbs, cocoa and chocolate, fresh fruit, flowers, sugar, rice, and vanilla. TransFair USA licenses companies to display the Fair Trade Certified label on products that meet strict international Fair Trade standards.

Fair Trade Certification empowers farmers and farm workers to lift themselves out of poverty by investing in their farms and communities, protecting the environment, and developing the business skills necessary to compete in the global marketplace."

Globally, Fair Trade certification is obtained through the Fairtrade Labeling Organization (FLO) and FLO CERT, an umbrella organization that sets social, economic and environmental standards and inspects applicants to make sure they're following them in order to become certified under the Fair Trade label.

By supporting businesses that follow the Fair Trade model, we help to decrease the demand for cheap sweat shop labor and unfair and often harmful practices. We pay the extra dime or two to help bring people across the globe out of poverty and into healthier, more sustainable lifestyles.

I hope that other US cities (cough Madison cough) follow Milwaukee's lead by passing similar resolutions, and then making sure to follow them up with solid, long-term action.

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