In March, we attended the annual Fair Trade Federation conference held this year in sunny Del Mar, California. It’s the event that we look forward to each year. A time when we can connect with other fair trade businesses and remind ourselves through the impactful stories why we follow the principles of fair trade.
It’s an inspiring few days, to say the least, and fodder for wanting to do more after we return home.
It’s also an in-kind reminder, like any job, of the paper work and business details that we need to do post-conference. In particular, our annual membership renewal deadline is quickly coming up, which contains a list of response questions.
Reminiscent of my elementary school days, I hear the phrase ‘response questions’ and internally respond with the thought, “Why? We have so much work to do already.” But then I am humbled by the request.
As any member of the Fair Trade Federation would say, the initial application is tedious, extremely thorough, and takes a lot of time. Understandably, right? To be accepted into the FTF is an honor, and we can say that we abide by the principles of fair trade. In keeping this membership, the FTF wants to continue verifying that we are following these principles and standing behind what we purport.
While completing this year’s renewal, I was struck by the question: What health and safety risks have you identified in production?
It’s a question that we have answered in the past. It’s a question that is continually on our minds. And, it’s a question that we hope all companies are asking.
Our response? To name a couple of issues, here is what we have addressed:
In the past, we addressed concerns for the artisans in Malawi who would carry large sums of money while traveling to pay the others. Since, we asked all groups to set-up bank accounts that we can then wire payment and reduce the risks associated with carrying money long distances.
More recently, after visiting the artisans in Brazil we had concern about the ventilation in the workroom (which is outside) given that the glue used gives a strong odor. We discussed and the group is researching different glue that is more eco-friendly and healthier. We also suggested adding some fans to blow the fumes away from their workbenches.
This question is of course on going, and we’ll continue to address issues that come up. We also want to encourage other businesses to do the same.
After I have hit send to submit our renewal form, I find that I am no longer that young girl holding a grudge towards more work. Instead I feel a sense of pride in our work and confidence in the Fair Trade Federation for requiring these re-screenings.
To learn more about the Fair Trade Federation and what our membership means, please visit: www.FairTradeFederation.org
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