The Origins of World Fair Trade Day
Photo courtesy of WorldFinds
Written by Adam Swarth
It was in 2004 when the practice of fair trade was designated a holiday. As decided by the World Trade Organization (WTO), fair trade would be annually honored on the second Saturday of May. In 2023, “Fair Trade Day,” as titled by the WTO, falls on May 13 and looks to celebrate fair trade’s accomplishments and further its ambitions.
The fair trade movement’s origins can be traced to 1946, when Edna Ruth Byler planted the roots for the modern fair trade practice. In 1946, Byler visited Puerto Rico and saw the beautiful craftwork made by local women. Recognizing they lacked both the opportunity and location to sell their products, Byler bought the goods for a fair price and sold them to friends and family in the United States. Traveling nationwide, she sold their product and spread awareness of the fair trade cause, resulting in the official creation of what is now known as Ten Thousand Villages, one of the first official fair trade organizations.
Since the initial development of the fair trade movement to now, the movement has gained extreme traction. The practice of fair trade has become international, and the movement has worked tirelessly to grant better working conditions, wages, and product prices to currently developing countries; North American and European nations especially have worked to promote fair trade in Asian, African, Caribbean, and other countries.
Around the world, Fair Trade Day is celebrated for the purpose of promoting fair trade. One of the most common events on Fair Trade Day is a fair trader’s market- a fair where fair trade products are sold to increase awareness of the movement. Some areas even communally observe the holiday, spending the entire day celebrating and marking the holiday with a wide variety of activities. Drakenstein, for example, is a small municipality in South Africa. Their Fair Trade Day festivities consist of a trader’s market, arts and crafts, puppet shows, and even an early morning yoga session.
For those interested in getting involved in fair trade, there are many ways to successfully do so!
One of the most effective ways to be involved in fair trade is to make sure the products you purchase are produced through fair trade practices. Doing the research to find out if what you’re paying for is produced fairly requires little effort and has a high payoff.
Joining a fair trade organization is another way to be positively involved in fair trade. By directly becoming a part of the movement, you simultaneously work to better the working conditions of others while becoming more educated about the struggles other people may face.
Look for the “Fairtrade mark” located on products. This logo is used to represent that a product was crafted through fair practices.
Take time on Fair Trade Day to start your journey of bettering the world, one fair trade good by one. Better conditions for a better product? That sounds like a fair trade to me!