One of the reasons I first started blogging about five years ago was to become a better fair trade activist. Since then, the fair trade movement in the U.S. has changed dramatically. For one, the nonprofit that certifies fair trade products in the U.S. recently changed its name from TransFair USA to Fair Trade USA. But the biggest changes have been the dramatic grown in the fair trade movement.

For example, Whole Foods went from shunning to embracing fair trade full force, Ben & Jerry’s decided to source its coffee, chocolate, and other ingredients from fair trade sources, and even Avon’s gotten into dabbling in fair trade beauty products. Even more impressively, fair trade activists started the Fair Trade Towns movement in the U.S. — and now 20 spots are designated as Fair Trade Towns for making fair trade businesses and products easy (or at least easier) to find in the neighborhood.

And in just a couple days, it’ll be October — a.k.a. Fair Trade Month — which is nicely timed to end with Halloween. After all, quite a bit of the chocolate candy given out on that sweet holiday is still made through unfair labor. Fair Trade Month comes as a sweet reminder that candy needn’t be tainted with fears of child labor; just opt for fair trade certified chocolate instead.

To celebrate the month, Fair Trade USA’s put together a list of tips — like hosting a fair trade event! Though fair trade may seem like a heavy subject, your celebratory fair trade affair need not be doom and gloom. Basically, you can throw a coffee, tea, chocolate, wine, and even cocktail party — using fair trade products, of course — and register it on Fair Trade USA’s website so you can receive a free event kit and educational materials that your guests can ponder over while imbibing on the yummy snacks.

Other ways to participate include everything from simply opting for fair trade products, spreading the word about fair trade using social media tools, or even donating money to the fair trade cause. IMHO, the party throwing sounds like the most fun for fall. You don’t even have to throw your own; just look at Fair Trade USA’s event calendar to see if a party’s already planned near you.

And if you’re in San Francisco, just show up to Fair Trade USA’s “Every Party Makes a Difference” tonight, Wed., Sep. 29 at 8 pm at Temple San Francisco, 540 Howard St. Pay the cover ($10 with online RSVP; $15 without), and you’ll get to enjoy a night of music from live DJs along with fair trade vodka cocktails and appetizers.

Throw a Fair Trade party in October
October is Fair Trade Month. Celebrate by throwing a fair trade coffee hour -- or cocktail hour -- and buying better-for-kids chocolate on Halloween.