We've all seen "Fair Trade Certified" stickers on products before, but what do those labels actually mean? Beyond knowing that this certification is a good thing, most shoppers don’t know much about fair trade or why supporting it is so important.
It's an unfortunate fact that many successful companies choose to reduce their expenses by outsourcing the production of their products to developing countries where they are not legally required to pay workers a reasonable wage or provide them with a safe working environment.
Producers and laborers in these countries who are desperate for income are often forced to accept inadequate pay and dangerous working conditions because they are not in a position to negotiate with their employers. Horrifically, some companies even disregard the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and stoop to employing children. Not only are these companies gaming the system to evade laws intended to protect fundamental human rights, they are also taking advantage of the most marginalized members of our society and profiting at their expense.
Fair trade is an egalitarian movement that aims to put an end to these abuses of power. The goal of fair trade is to improve working and trading conditions for producers in the developing world by providing them with safe and equitable employment opportunities at companies that prioritize ethical business practices over profit maximization.
By committing to adopt and uphold the principles of the movement, fair trade businesses endeavor to stop the exploitation of vulnerable workers in disadvantaged communities.
According to the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), the 10 main aims of fair trade are to:
No company should ever profit from exploiting an impoverished and vulnerable workforce. Subjecting employees to inhumane treatment and unfair compensation for their labor is illegal in the Western world, and it is morally reprehensible for companies to commit these crimes abroad.
When you choose to buy fair trade products, you are actively contributing to a world where all workers – no matter where they live – can rely on a decent wage and a safe working environment. You are directly benefiting disadvantaged workers in the developing world by opting to support the companies that treat them fairly.
At Sonnenglas, we believe in integrity. We are dedicated to handcrafting a beautiful, high-quality product while also protecting the environment and providing equitable employment opportunities for workers in struggling communities.
Our company began as a social project to create jobs for impoverished locals in Johannesburg and we have always been committed to treating our family of employees with the utmost fairness and respect. Every lantern we produce is lovingly handmade by our wonderful team in South Africa using eco-friendly materials. Our lanterns are 100% recyclable and we fuel our LEDs with renewable and sustainable solar power via the highest-quality solar module available on the market.
Sonnenglas is proud to be a fair trade company and we’re also proud of our customers for supporting us. Thank you for choosing our ethically produced solar lanterns and helping us build a safer, fairer, cleaner – and sunnier! – world.
Author: Vanessa Reid