Commentary: Consider Fair Trade Shopping

Commentary: Consider Fair Trade Shopping

When we go shopping for tea, chocolate, clothes, or even sports equipment, most of us never pause to consider the conditions under which those products were made. Meanwhile, there are farmers, artisans, and workers across the globe working without being paid a living wage. Many of these individuals labor in unsafe working conditions; many others work against their own will. These harsh realities are exactly what Fair Trade Alexandria is working to change.

Fair Trade Alexandria is a grassroots movement gaining the momentum necessary to designate the City of Alexandria as one of nearly 1,500 Fair Trade Towns around the world. More than 25 retailers in the city have already supported Fair Trade Alexandria's efforts by making at least two fair trade-certified products available for sale in their shops.

Fair Trade Alexandria looks to encourage socially conscious spending and work towards ensuring that those individuals who grow our bananas, harvest our rice, and shape our jewelry are earning the living they deserve.

We are not asking Alexandria shoppers to buy more goods, but to have the knowledge about fair trade through on-going education and will want to make the choice to seek out products designated as fair-trade certified. Alexandria's purchasing dollars can be a powerful change agent when everyone is involved. When looking for fair-trade goods, they will be clearly marked with a fair-trade label — making it easy for the average consumer to recognize.

When choosing to shop Fair Trade, we support an effective business model that offers people around the world the opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty. Fair Trade Alexandria hopes to harness the spirit of one of the nation's first historic trade towns and transform it into one that supports this model.

In order for Alexandria to become a "Fair Trade Town," the city will have to meet certain criteria. Through its steering committee for these efforts, we have identified local participating businesses and are now looking for organizations that use fair-trade products. The end goal of these efforts will be to pass a resolution with the City of Alexandria so as to get legislative support of fair trade.

For more information about Alexandria's fair trade campaign and how you can help, and for the list of retailers who already offer two or more fair trade certified products in Alexandria, visit