Sustainable Design Awards Toolkit

Section 1.5 - Fair Trade

What is Fair Trade? A statement on the Network of European World Shops website describes Fair Trade as follows:

"Fair Trade puts people before profit.
It is a partnership between producers, traders and consumers who are working to remove the disadvantages suffered by producers, to increase producers' access to markets and promote the sustainable development process.
Fair Trade works to create means and opportunities for producers, especially disadvantaged, small-scale producers, to improve their living and working conditions. Its mission is to promote social equity, environmental protection and economic security through trade, awareness-raising and campaigning.
Fair prices are ensured to producers. That price covers a reasonable income, environmental protection and economic security.
Long term co-operation allows producers to finance the development of their communities.
Good working conditions are experienced by producers in Fair Trade. They have a voice about their work and organisation.
Respect and promotion of human rights, especially those of women, children and disabled people, are the basis of Fair Trade.
Assistance to the development of ecologically sound products and care for sustainable production are established in the Fair Trade partnership."11
To understand Fair Trade, it is important to look at unfair trade, in order to gain perspective:

It is common practice in the Western Bengali area of India for moneylenders to offer money in return for labour. Fathers often borrow from these moneylenders to pay dowries for their daughters' marriage. In a typical example, a father commits to working in a carpet factory for a number of years in order to pay off the debt. However, the working conditions are appalling, and the father's labour is unpaid, so he develops further debt when borrowing more money to feed his family. This traps him into working at the carpet factory for longer, and his debt increases in a cycle, which cannot be broken.

The carpets are then described to exporters as authentic, traditional hand-made Indian rugs, and are sold at huge mark ups, increasing the moneylender's wealth and his ability to trap more labourers. The workers receive none of the profit and only the middleman benefits.

In contrast, at the Tibetan Children's Village in Dharamsala, Northern India, refugees from Tibet make and sell carpets as a community, to support and educate themselves. The hand-knotted carpets are made to patterns which have been handed down through the oral tradition. As a community, there is a good working environment, and continuity of employment and income, which helps to prevent the cycle of debt, and keeps the producers in control of how their profits are spent.12

11.Quoted from - last visited 23-06-2020
12.Source: Shukriya - Trading Policy. Shukriya is a fair trade company working in India and Nepal


Sustainability Issues
1.1  What is sustainability?
1.2  The effect of globalisation
1.3  Consumerism and its effect
1.4  Manufacture Abroad
1.5  Fair trade
1.6  Success stories
Toolkit Index
Section 1.
Sustainability Issues
Section 2.
Companies and Products
Section 3.
Ecodesign Tools
Section 4.
Inspirational current work

Cardboard Bookshelf which is it's own packaging

Interior Design Room Photograph