What Is Fair Trade?

You may have seen the “Fair Trade” symbol and its guarantee that some of the money spent on your bag of coffee beans or bar of chocolate goes directly to its producers halfway around the world. Thanks to trends in fashion and design like the slow movement and ethical sourcing, the same assurances that were once limited to the grocery store can now be made about clothing and home goods.

What does it all mean? Fair trade is more than just a guarantee that no source will be exploited when it comes to payment for goods or services. Fair Trade is a mutually-agreed upon approach to business that is based on fundamental values of dialogue, transparency and respect. The movement supports craftspeople, such as Meridian’s artisan partners all over the world, who reside in developing countries and face challenges in finding a market for their goods. Through participating in Fair Trade, we seek to empower our producers with fair pay, safe working conditions, environmental responsibility and sustained economic growth.

Businesses like ours who are committed to Fair Trade work closely with small artisan organizations to ensure Fair Trade principles are upheld to the highest standards of business practice. As a member of this community, companies are committed to the following principles:

Create Opportunities for Marginalized Producers

Through sustainable development, Fair Trade companies create social and economic opportunities and trade partnerships for producers and their communities in marginalized areas around the world.

Develop Transparent and Accountable Relationships

Just like in personal relationships, those that are open, fair and respectful are the most successful. Fair Trade companies build ongoing and lasting relationships with producers built on meaningful conversation. This extends to the consumer, too – so consider yourself part of the dialogue!

Build Capacity

Fair Trade companies have longer term relationships (built on mutual respect and trust) with their producers, more so than in traditional models of doing business. We’re in it for the long haul, and want to ensure our partners are set up for long term success with tools and assistance to build their capacity, improve their access to markets, and provide financial and technical help.

Promote Fair Trade

Companies who participate in the Fair Trade movement should shout it from the rooftops! It’s important to share what we learn, and encourage customers to be curious and passionate about where their home goods come from and how they are made.

Pay Promptly and Fairly

All producers in a Fair Trade environment set their prices based on the true costs of labor, time and materials. Companies should go above and beyond local, national and international minimum standards to ensure income is distributed equitably, especially when it comes to equal pay for equal work by women and men.

Support Safe and Empowering Work Conditions

The safety and health of workers is of the utmost importance in Fair Trade. In partnership with the producers, companies cultivate workplaces that are free of discrimination or abuse of any kind. It’s critical to ensure that anyone working as a producer wants to be there and is not forced in any way.

Ensure the Rights of Children

All children, no matter where they live, have the right to security, education and play. Fair Trade companies respect and support the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as international, national and local law on the employment of children. While often minimum age standards for work do vary according to the country, Fair Trade does not condone exploitation.

Cultivate Environmental Stewardship

We only have one planet, and Fair Trade companies are urged to support and facilitate working with organic, recycled and/or environmentally sustainable methods whenever possible – in the daily operations of their producers, supply chain and the day-to-day business at HQ.

Respect Cultural Identity

Fair Trade celebrates the diversity of their producer communities, and makes a concerted effort to be respectful of the cultural identity of all products and the production pipeline. Fair Trade companies balance market needs with producers’ cultural heritage, which is a critical part of Meridian’s DNA!

In a marketplace where many companies are sourcing products from producers across the globe, transparency has become not just a fleeting trend but a movement that is here to stay. It is important to us that we do business the way we’d like to be treated, and we’re working hard to make sure we go above and beyond industry standards. We’re proud to be in a select community practicing Fair Trade principles. It is our hope that with a Meridian purchase, your home not only will look good, but you will feel good about it, too.

For more about how Meridian practices Fair Trade principles, read about us here.

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