Welcome to the first week of October, also known as Fair Trade month. For those who might not know, buying Fair Trade products is an effort to ensure that farmers and workers who create the products that consumers are buying have access to a just living wage.
Not to mention that buying Fair Trade also cuts out unnecessary middlemen in the trade relationship, which in many instances can function in a way that prevents farmers from gaining enough independence and business experience to engage in the international market.
So in a way, when one buys a Fair Trade product, it can be seen as a way to cast an economic vote with one’s money to support the dignity and rights of workers. Just make sure to look for the Fair Trade labels.
In the Catholic faith, there are a set of guidelines known as Catholic Social Teaching, that the United States Conference of Bishops (USCCB) describe as God’s call for a covenant of love and justice, with an emphasis on the poor and vulnerable.
In the Catholic Social Teaching tradition, the notion of the Rights of Workers is a theme that a core tenet, that many people feel to be intrinsic to the Catholic faith. The Rights of Workers is a way of appreciating and acknowledging that the human dignity of a worker is worth more than their work, and strengthens our identity as a human community. We are all better off when we stand united in the face of injustices and inequalities even if we ourselves aren’t necessarily being affected by them. If they affect some of us they’re inevitably going to impact all of us.
It’s tremendously important as people who are privileged to be on a campus that an item they are purchasing is Fair Trade certified. It is our job to recognize our responsibility to look out for those whose labors we enjoy and take for granted on a daily basis.
This is not to say we should feel guilt or shame if we choose not to buy Fair Trade products, because those should rarely be major motivators, (and if they are they usually aren’t long lasting). However, if you have the option to choose Fair Trade coffee at Einstein’s or the Duhawk Market, I encourage you to try it out and do your own research about Fair Trade and sustainable trade practices. Stay informed and do your part in creating a world that is more equitable for people who are in vulnerable positions.