In the same way that organics helped us think about what's in our food or our products in terms of pesticides and impact on the environment, fair trade is helping us think about the person who's behind our food or our products. The United States is the world's largest consumer economy; the way we buy is affecting communities all around the world.
Here's what we are trying to say in the fair trade movement: When I spend a dollar, I'm actually voting in the world's biggest democracy—our economy. And when I choose to spend a dollar in a way that ensures that the person who grew or made something was paid fairly and treated appropriately, I'm not only buying this great thing I want; I'm also making sure it was created in a sustainable way, a way that honors the community where it was made.
World of Good works with 150 women's cooperatives in 31 countries. We build long-term relationships, prefinance orders, and offer technical support. We also invest part of the profits back into the communities. Last year, for instance, we built a school in Guatemala and a well in Kenya, so women don't have to walk three hours to get water.
We all feel overwhelmed by our choices. I think it's about taking it in as digestible chunks. So you can say, 'OK, fair trade is a principle I understand. Maybe I can't practice it in every single choice and every thing I buy. At the same time, I can keep my eyes open, and when I see a choice, I can support it in that way. And when I'm in a store where I would like to see a choice, I can ask for it.' By doing that, we're really showing ourselves to the world and saying that these are the things we care about. And when we do that, people are listening and responding; the market is shifting.
—Priya Haji, CEO and co-founder, World of Good (www.worldofgood.com)