Fair trade is a system of exchange that seeks to create greater equity and partnership in international trading by ensuring safe working conditions and prompt, fair wages for workers.
Fair trade sales and consumer awareness have increased tremendously in recent years, as the range of fair trade products has also expanded. Handmade items include lace, home décor, clothing, sports equipment, toys and other items. From its initial focus on coffee, fair trade product certification has expanded to tea, chocolate, sugar, vanilla, fruit, wine and more. In 2006, IFAT reported that total fair trade sales topped $2.6 billion.
Fair trade continues to move forward across the globe, because of the efforts of consumers, entrepreneurs, non-governmental organizations and other communities. It has a tremendous impact on communities worldwide: children's school fees are paid, nutritional needs met, healthcare costs covered, the poor (especially women) are empowered and the environmental impact of production and transport is mitigated to the fullest extent possible. (Source: Fair Trade Federation / Photo: Flickr)