Fair Trade Shopping

United Against Human Trafficking (UAHT), fully supports the Fair Trade Houston initiative. We want to see Houston take a stand against human trafficking and other forms of injustice in our supply chain.

UAHT knows that purchasing Fair Trade items guarantees that products are not made using slave labor. Additionally, purchasing fair trade products can also help prevent human trafficking by guaranteeing producers a minimum and fair price that they can depend on permitting them to save for the future, educate their children, maintain their health and invest in their communities, all of which reduce risk factors for human trafficking. Fair Trade products are clearly labeled and are certified by third party organizations. This process assures that the products purchased are not fueling the demand for slave labor.

To make this happen, UAHT in collaboration of local businesses, nonprofits, and individuals are promoting that the government and the community support and use Fair Trade products as this labeling process is currently the only way that we can be assured as consumers that the product are slave-free and respects the producer who made it.

To learn about the many products that are currently available take a look and (even print out) our Socially Conscious Shopping Guide. Many of the products on this list can be found locally in the Houston area or through Internet. Please note this is not an exhaustive list as consumer demand increase for Fair Trade products new items are continuously being added to the family of Fair Trade options. However, we hope are guide provides a good place to start.

The Intersection Between Fair Trade and Human Trafficking

Why is Fair Trade such an important part of the anti-human trafficking movement?

1. the prevention and elimination of human trafficking; and

2. the guarantee to you as a consumer that the money you are spending is not going to support a company that uses slave labor.

In many poor countries, impoverished families are targeted by traffickers and lured by promises of a better life in a wealthier country. Parents, believing their children will find a bright future, give up their sons and daughters, many of whom end up forced to work in brothels or in labor camps or farms. These children are making the products we use everyday – rugs, chocolate, coffee, sugar, sports equipment, clothes, etc. It is so prevalent that all of you reading this article right now have probably used a product made by forced child slaves today. While astonishing, this should not paralyze us into thinking there is nothing we can do. This is where Fair Trade comes into the equation. When you purchase Fair Trade tea or coffee or handicraft or any other product, you can be assured it does not use child or slave labor because it is monitored by a neutral, third party who guarantees the labor rights of the workers are respected. This is one of the tenets of Fair Trade: that the labor was not forced and was compensated fairly.

However, Fair Trade does much more. It actually helps prevent slavery. Farmers and workers that are part of a Fair Trade cooperative or agreement are guaranteed certain rights and a fair wage. This guarantee of income provides security that removes the uncertainty of depending on a volatile market. They are able to save, provide for their families, and even educate their children and themselves, which reduces their risk of falling prey to traffickers. Fair Trade prices also includes a premium above the standard market price of the good. This premium is reinvested in the communities around the factories and farms that produce Fair Trade goods, which means it benefits many more people than just the producers themselves. Some examples of these investments include schools, medical treatment, scholarships for young people to continue their education, and awareness initiatives.

But trafficking is about both supply and demand. These efforts reduce the supply of victims, but there are always more impoverished people that can be exploited. We as the consumers must create the demand that puts traffickers out of work. When we purchase Fair Trade, we show that we will not tolerate trafficking or slavery in our products. As the demand increases for slave-free, Fair Trade products, companies realize that the old way of doing business, which centers around high profits and cheap labor is no longer successful. Eventually Fair Trade must become the new way of doing business, not the outlier. However, that cannot happen without you – every consumer and every purchase makes a difference. You have the power to end slavery, to protect the vulnerable from taking unnecessary risks, and to inspire change, and it can all begin with the coffee you drink in the morning, the chocolate you give your loved one as a gift, or the tablecloth on your dining room table.