Social Justice

Ethics Over Price: 5 Fairtrade Products You Should Consider Buying Regardless of Cost

Ethics Over Price: Fairtrade Products You Should Consider Buying Regardless of Cost
Thomas Mitchell
Written by Thomas Mitchell

It’s no secret that we’re living in an age of conscious – and confused – consuming. We want to know everything and anything about what we’re wearing, eating and drinking. But we’re not necessarily willing to act on that information and change our purchasing behaviour.

The recent findings from Choosi’s Modern Conveniences and Ethical Purchasing Report paint a picture of confused conscious consuming at its best.

The study found more than 90 percent of people believe having ethical alternative choices available to them is at least somewhat important. But the same report also revealed that Australians are generally reluctant to fork out extra for a more ethical purchase, with only 36 percent of people admitting they’d shop ethical regardless of price.

But it pays to remember that sometimes the true cost of consuming is about more than dollars and cents. Fairtrade is the first step towards creating equal footing between producers and consumers, providing better lives for thousands of workers.

Fairtrade improves the lives of those in the developing world

Related Post: A Sober Take on Fairtrade

Read on to discover five everyday products that you can shop Fairtrade and start making a difference today. 

1. Cotton clothing

What is Fairtrade cotton? Fairtrade cotton is produced under Fairtrade certified rules. It ensures that cotton farmers get a guaranteed price for their cotton. It also refers to the conditions under which the cotton is farmed – Fairtrade cotton does not rely on harmful pesticides or engage in child labour.

Why should I consider Fairtrade cotton? Cotton is one of the most popular textiles in the world, a material used by everyone, every day, in every part of the globe. However, 100 million rural households who produce cotton are living in poverty. Cotton farmers rely on this crop to provide enough income to live and support their families. Any fall in cotton prices can have serious implications for a farmer and their family. 

What impact will I have? Buying Fairtrade cotton has a huge trickledown effect for consumers. In the short term, it ensures that cotton farmers are covering production costs and working in safe environments. In the long term, it allows cotton farmers to reinvest in their farms, families and local communities. It also has a large-scale impact for developing countries who rely on cotton trade, allowing them to filter profits back into the people.

Where can I buy Fairtrade cotton? Kathmandu carries a range of men and women’s Fairtrade certified shirts while Etiko is a fully-fledged Fairtrade fashion retailer that uses fairtrade organic cotton in its footwear and apparel.

Related Post: Just How Sustainable is Organic Cotton?

Buy Fairtrade Cotton Clothing Regardless of Cost

2. Gold jewellery

What is Fairtrade gold? Gold sourced by miners who are working under a set of rights predetermined by Fairtrade. It ensures that the miners get access to the international marketplace, as well as receiving a guaranteed minimum price in line with the gold value as determined by the London Bullion Market Association. Fairtrade gold miners are also given a premium price on each kilo sold which is to be reinvested back into the community.

Why should I consider Fairtrade gold? All that glitters is not gold, especially when it comes to the gold trade. By buying Fairtrade gold you’d be helping to lessen the daily dangers that gold miners face. Non-ethical gold doesn’t apply the same standards as Fairtrade gold, meaning workers are subject to long hours in unsafe mines for little money and handling dangerous chemicals.

What impact will I have? Buying your loved one a Fairtrade gold ring may seem like a small gesture but it will have a big impact. You will be helping small-scale gold miners in South America and East Africa support themselves and improve their health and wellbeing. Your contribution would also allow the miners to invest in safer, more efficient technology that would remove their daily health risks.    

Where can I buy Fairtrade gold? Boutique jewellers around Australia are realising that consumers should have transparency around the origins of the gold they’re buying. Check out. Nordhoff, Zoe Pook and Larsen Jewellery

Zoe Pook Fairtrade engagement ring - ethical jewellery

Fairtrade rose gold engagement rings. Credit: Zoe Pook

Ethics Over Price- 5 Fairtrade Products You Should Consider Buying Regardless of Cost

3. Chocolate

What is Fairtrade chocolate? Fairtrade chocolate is made from cocoa that is farmed under Fairtrade standards. These standards include a ban on forced labour, strict conditions on children working on cocoa farms, as well as a premium for farmers which sees profits flowed back into community projects.

Why should I consider Fairtrade chocolate? Child labour is one of the biggest issues in cocoa farming, with crippling poverty kickstarting a domino effect that results in young children being forced to work against their will. Spending slightly more on ethically sourced chocolate is the first step towards ending this cycle of labour.

What impact will I have? It’s hard to enjoy a sweet treat if you’re aware of the sour experience behind its production. But by buying Fairtrade chocolate you can gorge guilt-free! Plus, you can rest easy knowing that with every sneaky piece of chocolate you’re helping farmers provide a better future for themselves and their families.

Where can I buy Fairtrade chocolate? You can get your chocolate fix – with a Fairtrade tick! – from places like Green & Black’s and Alter Eco. Hot tip – try the Deep Dark Sea Salt!

Choose Fairtrade Coffee & Chocolate Regardless of Cost

4. Coffee & tea

What is Fairtrade coffee and tea? Fairtrade tea and coffee refers to the tea and coffee that is sourced under the Fairtrade guidelines. Fairtrade coffee is purchased from farmers at a fair market rate and also comes with a premium for farmers to reinvest. Similarly, Fairtrade tea is sourced from tea estates who abide by the working conditions set out by Fairtrade.

Why should I consider Fairtrade coffee and tea? Knowledge is power and one of the biggest benefits of Fairtrade coffee and tea is that it helps farmers improve their position in the production chain. By connecting producers around the world, farmers are more familiar with the market information, ensuring they know the value of their product. 

What impact will I have? While you may relish your daily flat white, imagine how much better it would taste if you also knew that by buying a Fairtrade coffee you’re helping improve the life of a coffee farmer, their family and the wider community.

Where can I buy Fairtrade coffee & tea? Click the links for a list of vendors who stock Fairtrade coffee and tea.

Always choose Fairtrade Coffee Regardless of Cost

5. Cosmetics & skincare

What is Fairtrade cosmetics & skincare? Ethically sourced cosmetics are a new arrival to the Fairtrade scene but they’re just as important. The term “Fairtrade cosmetics” covers popular ingredients found in beauty products, like shea butter, cocoa butter, brazil nut oil and argan oil. A Fairtrade cosmetic has had these ingredients sourced under the Fairtrade guidelines. 

Why should I consider Fairtrade cosmetics & skincare? Much like other Fairtrade goods, cosmetics guarantee a minimum price for producers. So that means no matter how unpredictable the conditions, the farmers can rely on an agreed amount under Fairtrade rules.

What impact will I have? Your daily moisturising routine may make you look great, but it can also make you feel great too. Investing in Fairtrade products means that you’re helping foster a culture around cosmetics that supports the people at the very start of the supply chain.

Where can I buy Fairtrade cosmetics & skincare? Homegrown brand, Humanite, is leading the way for fair trade cosmetics, working productively with the women of Burkina Faso to source their shea butter.

Humanite fairtrade skincare

Credit: Humanite

Do you prioritise fairtrade over price? Having trouble convincing your family and friends to purchase fairtrade? Share your story in the comments below.

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About the author

Thomas Mitchell

Thomas Mitchell

After getting his pen license at just five years old it seemed writing was the only way forward for a young Thomas Mitchell. He went on to become a journalist whose work has appeared in numerous publications, including Time Out, News.com.au and The Huffington Post. He also writes a monthly dating advice column on POPSUGAR called Hey Thomas! In his down time, Thomas likes to get digital, working on branded content for corporate clients.

3 Comments

  • In most cases, I do prioritize fair trade over price, though I still find myself slipping up on occasion. I’ve found that fair trade, organic cotton products are worth the extra price because they’re softer and hold up for much longer. More ethical companies should share quality details so that hesitant consumers know that they’ll get personal value out of the item as well as conscious value.

  • Love this list! MOIJEY Jewelry is good fair trade jeweler in the U.S. that I personally use. The owner is from Sierra Leone and used to be a child worker in the mines there so he knows first hand the importance of fairtrade and makes sure everything his business sells is ethical. My fiance and I are so excited we’ve purchased our engagement/wedding rings from this business.

  • We are fully behind Fair Trade. As a producer based in Viet Nam and Malaysia, we were at one time a member of the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO). However, having experienced the workings of WFTO, we resigned (along with others).

    I also have spent most of the past 30+ years working in development in SE Asia, and have a good idea of what is happening on the ground.

    The issue with Fair Trade? We very rarely hear the voice of the grassroots producers, plus investments in their capacity building is minimal in my opinion.

    There are many companies now in SE Asia that have adopted Fair Trade practices but do not “fly the flag.” We are one of them. Like others, we just get on with the job of capacity building marginalized groups so at to become economically sustainable via producing environmentally friendly products.

    We leave all the BS, politics, and grandstanding to the so called Fair Trade organisations like WFTO.

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