Fair Trade & the Environment

It should come as no surprise that Fair Trade is good for our environment. One of the main tenets of Fair Trade is sustainability which can be defined as protecting the Earth’s ability to remain diverse and productive over time. By using sustainable production methods Fair Trade encourages producers to be good stewards of their land so that their land will remain productive for future generations.

Fair Trade products also help maintain the rainforest which is in danger of disappearing. One of the beauties of Fair Trade coffee is that it is often shade grown. It is estimated that up to 85% of Fair Trade coffee is grown under the shade of a forest canopy. Traditionally coffee was grown under shade trees but starting in the 1970’s a high yield coffee tree was developed that requires not only full sun but also a healthy dose of chemicals to protect the tree from diseases. Therefore shade grown coffee not only protects the rain forest but also removes the incentive to use chemicals. As a result we see a significant increase the amount of wildlife in shade grown coffee farms. Ornithologists, for example, have found over 140 bird species in shade grown coffee farms versus as few as five on coffee farms utilizing full sun coffee.

Finally, as noted above, Fair Trade products are often organic in nature. The use of organic production methods not only is healthier for the environment but it reduces the exposure of the farm worker to dangerous chemicals such as herbicides and pesticides.

By requiring a commitment to sustainable development, respect of the local ecosystems and the conservation of natural resources, Fair Trade products help protect our planet for future generations. “For Our Families and Our Future” please consider Fair Trade products that next time you shop.

Follow the link to find resources on Fair Trade and the Environment from Global Exchange.