The holiday season invites us to be our best self. It celebrates the virtues of generosity, peace and charity. The New Year offers us an opportunity to re-assess our lives, identifying ways that we can better live our ideals. One way we manifest our ideals and values is through how we shop.
Every purchase that we make promotes a value. All too often, our consumption reflects indifference to the way those who produce our goods are treated. In light of the deplorable wages, inhumane working conditions, human rights violations and lack of opportunity for personal advancement that exists at the bottom of our supply chain, we must ask ourselves whether we honestly subscribe to the universal challenge to “treat others the way we would want to be treated.” Can any of us honestly say we would be comfortable with the thought of ourselves, or someone we care about, working 7 days a week and 12 to 16 hours a day, just to survive?
In the upcoming months we, at the “Ohio fair trade network,” would like to offer practical suggestions relating to how consumers can use their purchasing voice to create a demand for goods produced in a way that respects workers. Helen Keller challenges each of us to recognize “I cannot do everything; but still I can do something.” Buying fair trade is something we can do to show we care about our marginalized brothers and sisters. We also invite all of you to share these ideas with your friends and families, remembering another wise saying, “when we dream alone it is only a dream; when we dream together it is the beginning of a new reality.”
The holidays are about togetherness and community. Who doesn’t love sitting in a coffee shop or in front of a fireplace sharing her or his favorite hot beverage with a group of loved ones? This simple celebration warms our spirit during this cold season reminding us that we are not alone, that we are valued and that we are part of a community. The truth is we are part of a larger “earth community.” A simple choice to buy fair trade coffee, tea or hot chocolate can celebrate the fact that our connectedness transcends our inner circle of friends and testify to a global solidarity.
Buying fair trade beverages is an easy and delicious way to show that you care about our brothers and sisters in the developing world and that you care how workers are treated. We invite you, this January, to begin (or continue) a habit by making your next coffee, tea or hot chocolate purchase fair trade.
It’s also worth noting that fair trade coffees and teas are priced competitively with other high quality brands. Check the ‘Ohio Fair Trade Network’s’ facebook page this month for weekly links detailing the condition of the workers that produce our coffees, teas, etc. as well as information on fair trade options. If you would like to go further with your commitment to fair trade during the winter you might also look into fair trade coats and sweaters as well as fair trade sugar for your drink.
Tune in next month to explore ways that we can kiss exploitation goodbye during the Valentine’s season by purchasing fair trade flowers, chocolates, and/or jewelry for someone you care about.
David Laguardia, Walsh Jesuit High School Teacher, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio