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Finance & Innovation

7 companies that exercise fair trade

From coffee to ice cream and chocolate to shoes, purchasing Fair Trade and ethically-sourced products has become easier as more products populate the shelves. As consumers become increasingly concerned with the environmental and social footprint of their purchase, more companies are investing in Fair Trade practices.

Fair Trade ensures that farmers and workers receive fair, competitive wages, ensure safe working conditions, prevent forced or abusive child labor practices and promote environmentally-sustainable farming methods. Additionally, Fair Trade assists in community development programs, like leadership programs and healthcare and finance programs, which helps the community to continue to grow and thrive over time.

The companies that join the roster of Fair Trade businesses grow every day, specializing in an increasingly wide variety of consumer products. Here are a few companies that exercise Fair Trade in popular goods:

1. Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream

The first ice cream company to use Fair Trade ingredients, Ben & Jerry’s launched their Fair Trade foray with their coffee flavors in 2005. Ben & Jerry’s plans on being 100-percent Fair Trade sourced by 2013. As a major company in the public eye, Ben & Jerry’s movement into ethical sourcing paved the way for other businesses to follow suit. A few of their current Fair Trade ingredients include cocoa, vanilla beans, coffee and espresso beans and nuts.

2. Rishi Tea

Grown in a Chinese mountain range with some of the oldest tea gardens in the world, Rishi Tea has always been harvested organically. Rishi’s Fair Trade practices have resulted in a scholarship program for children in middle school to university level. Fair Trade has also brought hospitals and roads to the remote area.

3. Fair Indigo

“Style with a Conscience” is their tagline. Eco-friendly, organic and Fair Trade, Fair Indigo designs and produces stylish clothing for both men and women.Unlike J. Jill and J. Crew, the apparel and accessories are created from organic, natural and recycled fibers. The Fair Indigo Foundation supports education in Peruvian communities, where the clothing is made, paying for teachers’ salaries, building a new classroom and provided equipment for a computer lab in two schools.

4. Fairhills Wine

Fairhills began as a Fair Trade wine project in South Africa, but quickly expanded to additional projects in Chile and Argentina. Fairhills growers are paid a fair price for the grapes used to create the wine. Additionally, the growers’ communities in South Africa, Chile and Argentina have benefitted, with the building of a daycare center, a library and a community hall. 

5. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters

This Vermont-based coffee company offers Fair Trade versions of its popular roasts in bags for at-home brewing as well as in K-cups for single-serve machines. The company partners with farmers to ensure they're getting a fair wage and working in appropriate conditions, while supporting the local Vermont economy. The company also reduces waste through recycling plans at its headquarters, manufacturing plants and retail stores.

6. Theo Chocolate

Every bean Theo Chocolate uses to create their chocolate bars is “organic, Fair Trade and Fair For Life purchased.” Grown sustainably and fairly priced, Theo Chocolate promotes biodiversity and strives to improve the lives of the farmers that grow their cocoa beans.

Theo Chocolate works with farmers groups and grower cooperatives throughout the world, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica and Peru.

7. Blends for Life

Blends for Life creates a diverse range of beauty and body care products using Fair Trade Certified™ Organic Shea Butter Blends. Blends for Life buys shea butter at a Fair Trade price, which doubles the producers’ earnings (typically women), which also helps improve their families’ living conditions. Associative life, management training and access to new technologies are also some of the results from Blends for Life’s community development programs.

Shopping for any type of Fair Trade product is not only easy, but it also benefits communities around the world and the environment. Look for the Fair Trade logo when shopping for products—it acts as a guarantee that products have been certified according to international Fair Trade standards.

Virginia Cunningham is a freelance writer from the Los Angeles area whose writing covers a range of topics, including health, technology and business marketing. Whether she is shopping for vitaminsor food, she prefers to purchase items that meet the Fair Trade standards.