Fair Trade Calgary believes that our city is capable of being a leader in the movement to support ethical procurement.
This local not-for-profit is on a mission to make Calgary the next Fair Trade Town in Canada. Fair Trade Town is a designation administered by Fair Trade organizations in various countries supporting Fairtrade International that unites local stores, restaurants, and the community around supporting, fair wages, ethical working conditions, and environmentally sustainable practices all along the supply chain.
“We’d like to make it easier for people or businesses who want to make Fair Trade choices to connect with the appropriate suppliers and producers,” says Erin Bird of Fair Trade Calgary. “People are looking for that symbol.” Besides providing connections, Fair Trade Calgary also encourages other businesses to get the Fairtrade International certification.
First created in 1988, Fairtrade International is an organization that sets the standards for fair working conditions and premiums for suppliers in the developing world – from coffee beans and chocolate to beauty products. There are other certification bodies who have different standards and audit systems. Lowen’s Skincare, for example, uses Fair Trade USA certified coconut oil and “Fair for Life” Fair Trade Certified Shea Butter in many of our products.
Bird first met Lowen’s founder Chad Zelensky at an event for REAP Business Association. “Chad was explaining some of the challenges he’d had knowing which certification to support,” she says. “I always try to offer businesses ways to tie in Fair Trade.”
Lowen’s has been an avid supporter of Fair Trade Calgary ever since and Lowen’s is exploring becoming a Fair Trade licensee in Alberta.
Bird says people often believe the Fair Trade movement is replacing the buy local movement – it’s not. “I believe the two go hand-in-hand,” she says. “We want to be a sustainable world and city, and we want to buy locally whenever we can, but some things cannot be grown in Canada like coffee and sugar.”
Another misconception is that Fair Trade is just about fair wages for farmers in the developing world. “It’s also about making sure there’s little to no pesticides being used, or not growing genetically-modified products. There’s also the relationship piece – it’s not just for a couple of years. It’s long-term.”
“We love to show people how they can integrate Fair Trade into their everyday lives,” says Bird.
“Consumers have a lot of power in changing the way industries run.”
Click here to see what Fair Trade goods are available in Calgary.
Email Erin at email@example.com to become an ambassador for your community.
And check out this video on Fair Trade: