A new app brings artisans' and farmers' stories to the consumer at the point of purchase – putting a face behind the label in an effort to increase fair trade practices and supply chain transparency.
By Mark Marosits, co-founder of Worldways Social Marketing
The Fair Trade movement has attracted many brilliant people and devised many creative ways to advance its simple proposition of dignity, equity and self-determination for those who produce what we consume.
There have been great strides made in codifying, organizing, certifying and labeling. Fair Trade choices are more accessible to consumers than ever before.
Yet, it is still quite a minority of us that shop only fair trade products. And even fewer that demand reform in the corporate practices that are causing death and suffering for workers and their families throughout the developing world.
The Need to Help Workers
It’s not that most of us don’t care. I think we do. I think we read the news about workers locked in and ordered to keep working, while their factory and co-workers burn around them and we are outraged. I think 1,100 dead in a factory collapse is staggering to us, and causes us to give pause. But, we don’t really know what to do, do we? And so the band plays on.
If there is any consolation, it is that this is the story of nearly all social movements that eventually turned a social tide, great and small. From civil rights to environmental protection, from seat belts to smoking bans we can – and do – change the status quo time and time again. The Fair Trade movement can transform the lives of artisans, farmers and laborers around the world. The big questions are: If not now, when? And, if not you, who?
The Time is Now
So, why not now? A quick look at when and why we change behavior – like shopping fair trade and demanding it from the brands which we prefer – shows that we change only when the emotional, economic or social cost of the status quo becomes too high. In other words, when we truly experience the pain in it, or truly experience the gain in changing it. For some, this experience can come in a momentary dawn of personal realization. For others, it is the ongoing influence of family and friends. For yet others, it may take a stiff measure of law and punishment.
Clearly, for the time to be now, more of us need to be experiencing the human pain and gain in which fair trade is grounded.
The Good Guys Should Get It Right
And, why not you? Most likely, if you are reading this, you’re considered socially conscious. You’re one of the good guys, right? So, what are you wearing today? Do you know who made it? Do you know the conditions they were working under? Do you know if your purchase has helped them and their family, or did it help to protect a manufacturer whose policies guarantee generations of poverty and oppression? If you are like most of us, chances are you can’t answer these questions. Hence, no experience of pain. Or of gain. Thus, no action, but likely a sense of dis-ease. Stay in this moment. Feel the dis-ease. Understand that it is more than dis-ease, it is disease. Many people are suffering and dying to make what we consume—maybe even what you are wearing today. And yet others are thriving.
A Cause for a Cure
Fair trade is a proven cure for the malignant disease of economic and social oppression. Once we experience it emotionally, we will work for the cure. Let’s all take a moment right now to think about what we are wearing today. Look at the stitches, imagine the seamstress. Her workplace. Her home. Her family. What do we want her life to be like? What is it like? Shouldn’t we know? Of course we should! To do otherwise is irresponsible, reckless and harmful to humanity.
I believe that the time is now, and we are the answer when it comes to fair trade and its humanitarian values. I have seen us firsthand – individuals, communities, even societies – make massive changes that improve workers’ physical, economic and environmental well-being. It springs from what is inside of us, what we expect of each other and what we demand of our social and economic environment.
It takes 40% – 60% of us to stand up and say that we feel our sense of what’s right is being violated before a topic moves to the broad social agenda and the groundswell of change begins to move inexorably to its conclusion.
So, please stand up and be counted. Know what you are wearing. Share your belief in fair trade with your social circle. Demand fair trade where you shop. Reward fair trade brands with your purchase. And support the use of labeling, certification and new technologies like the Fair Trace Tool ™ developed by Indigenous Fair Trade + Organic and Worldways Social Marketing to connect consumers with the emotional stories of artisans and farmers and the social impact of fair trade at the base of the supply chain pyramid. By snapping a QR code at the point of purchase, the Trace Tool connects the consumer instantly to this content.
Visit organizations like Fair Trade USA online to learn about the fair movement. Provide immediate support for the spread of Fair Trade values by making the Fair Trace Tool available to brands that could not otherwise afford it by as little as a $10 crowdfunding donation on Indiegogo at www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-fair-trace-tool.
The choice is yours. The time is now. The answer is you.
About the Author:
Mark Marosits is co-founder and senior strategist with Worldways Social Marketing, a full service agency with global reach exclusively serving organizations working to improve the physical, social, environmental and economic well-being of individuals and communities throughout the world. He specializes in the art and science of positive behavior change.