Boston’s a fair trade town. A what???

September 10, 2010

I closed my last post saying that I’d be back to talk more about Boston becoming a fair trade town.  So what is a fair trade town?  A little Wikipedia research provided a quick e-history lesson.  The Fair Trade Town campaign was first launched in 2001 in the small town of Garstang, England. The initiative, which aimed to promote fair trade certified goods in the town, was highly successful: within a couple of months, awareness of the fair trade certification mark jumped to over 70% in the town while sales of fair trade certified goods increased significantly.  Nearly 10 years later, there are Fair Trade Towns in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Here in the US, the criteria for a locality to become a Fair Trade Town are:

1) A range of Fair Trade Certified products are available at local businesses and companies.

2) Schools, workplaces, places of worship and community organizations support Fair Trade and use and offer Fair Trade products.

3) City council passes a resolution supporting Fair Trade, and actively encourages its local use and availability.

4) Media coverage and events raise awareness and understanding of Fair Trade across the community.

5) A Fair Trade steering group/committee representing different sectors is formed to co-ordinate action around the goals and develop them over the years.

In Boston, these criteria were met in August of this year and the city joined 19 other US localities that have been declared Fair Trade Towns since 2006.  You may wonder how a movement to achieve a goal like this happens.  The answer: a lot of hard work by ordinary people who decide that they want to make a bit of change for poor farmers and artisans.

You may also wonder if we can do something like this in Mumbai or Bangalore or Delhi.  The answer: well, why not?  There’s nothing special about Boston or Garstang other than the fact that some of their citizens decided to roll up their sleeves and make a difference.  Yes, it’s early days for fair trade in India.  But why not start but telling 5 friends about this blog post.  Then send them to Mother Earth and AND stores to check out Shop for Change Fair Trade certified garments (see here for where).

Tonight there’s a big street festival downtown hosted by the group that made Fair Trade Boston a reality.  I’ll bring the camera and tell you more about it soon.

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