When companies post that their products are ethically made what exactly does that mean? How does the production of their product benefit from being ethically made? Is there a difference between ethically made and fair trade?
Sseko Designs for example provides housing, pays the girls they employ reserving half what they earn for the day tuition is due at the University as well as providing them with a safe holistic work environment while giving them the opportunity to save up to attend university and become whatever their hearts are set on. (Ethically Made)
Noonday Collection strives to employ artisans and not only sell their products but create and build long term relationships and create economic opportunities for marginalized. And is a member of the Fair Trade Federation. (Fair Trade)
Ethically made is a bit of an umbrella term for morally caring for their employees and work conditions, while fair trade is a governed term where you must be member of the organization to use. In ethically made branded businesses there is no one regulating businesses except for themselves when they claim to be ethically made. Many can register to become B-Corps, which “are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.” (from HERE)
Whereas the Fair Trade emblem and verbiage are strictly managed and companies must adhere to the 10 Principles of Fair Trade and be members of the organization.
“Fair Trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers – especially in the South.
Fair Trade organisations have a clear commitment to Fair Trade as the principal core of their mission. They, backed by consumers, are engaged actively in supporting producers, awareness raising and in campaigning for changes in the rules and practice of conventional international trade.” They can be recognised by the WFTO logo (below right) or the Fair Trade Federation (FTF)
Here are a few logos to be on the look out for when shopping:
The Fair Trade Federation and the World Fair Trade Organization recognize and uphold each other’s principles, and work together as allied organizations to promote greater equity in international trade. The FTF is a proud member of the WFTO.
Although we have strong regulations in the US for manufacturing other countries do not, which is why these principles are important to treat employees with respect, that they are paid well, and have a safe place to do their job. If a brand claims to be ethically make sure to read more about how they manage their employees and treat their workers in association to where they are located and who they are benefiting beyond the consumer (you). Don’t be afraid to email asking them about their factory locations, warehouse conditions and who they employ. Being a conscientious consumer is the first step.
Your purchase has power and speaks volumes.