Fair Trade, a solution to Climate Change not an issue

Climate Change. 

Two little words being used with increasing intensity and frequency of late.  Just like the typhoons hitting our shores – with increasing intensity and frequency – leaving communities reeling and bracing themselves for the next one.

Climate Change. 

Seemingly innocent words that when thrown together cause disaster and trauma. 

Climate Change. 

An alliteration. Changing the course of communities who carry the consequences.

Climate Change.

In the Philippines, this term is one that we know only too well, and unfortunately not in the academic sense.  Filipinos are suffering as a result of climate change and environmental damage on all fronts.  Coral reefs are dying = lower fishing catches = increased poverty.  Typhoons are hitting our shores = loss of lives and assets = hard-earned savings going to reconstructing lives instead of progressing lives.  Mountains stripped bare = short-term financial gain causing long-term soil infertility = increased poverty.

Filipinos know about Climate Change.  Filipinos know the issue, just as well, if not better than anyone.  So, let’s not talk about the issue, let’s talk about solutions.

Fair Trade.

Environmental crisis is largely not just about the environment. In order to address environmental issues, consideration needs to be taken to the underlying causes – for example poverty, growing populations, lack of livelihood.  Therefore, to address the environment, one needs to address these issues – finding sustainable sources of livelihood that give valued humans (we’re all valued humans) – who otherwise might damage the environment – an alternative that allows him/her to respect it.

This is where Fair Trade comes in.  Fair Trade is a global social movement surrounding doing business in a way that is fair.  It’s a multi-faceted approach that looks at the relationship of human rights, workers rights, environmental protection in the workplace – and how these can uplift lives and address some of those underlying causes of poverty and climate change.  The target of fair trade assistance are the micro and small marginalised producers – who are often the very people who know their land and environment better than anyone and given the chance, can make positive change.

Fair Trade: Countering Big Business

We know that big business is largely driven by market forces that are unaccountable – and unfortunately extract and exploit natural resources at alarming rate.  We know that this is contributing to climate change, but we feel helpless to stop it. 

This is where Fair Trade comes in.  By targeting small and micro producers, who have a face and a name and actively live in communities, we find that business becomes accountable and transparent.  Fair Trade is changing the rules of business from the grassroots up.  Fair Trade producers use raw materials that are sustainably harvested and gathered, natural resources that are renewable.  Some fair trade producers rescue waste before they hit the landfill, creating beautiful pieces of craft and artwork. 

Fair Trade:  Sustaining the Environment

Fair Trade producers consider their impact on the earth.  They use non-toxic paints and dyes.  They don’t use harsh chemicals in producing their goods.  Food items are made from organically grown plants, fruits and vegetables.

Fair Trade worker in Bicol, creating beautiful products out of abundant grasses and vines.
Fair Trade worker in Bicol, creating beautiful products out of abundant grasses and vines.

Fair Trade producers are our country’s unsung heroes of climate change.  They are silently toiling, working with sustainable materials available to them.  They are silently implementing business practices that empower their staff – for example gender equity, no child labor, safe and healthy working conditions, payment of fair price.

Fair Trade:  Let’s Get Loud

The Philippines boasts thousands of producers who are striving for fair trade – they are scattered across all regions of the country.  These producers provide us with hope and inspiration.  In their small, silent way, they are quietly addressing the big issues of the moment.

Let us all support these fair trade producers, and in doing so, play our part in also becoming the solution rather than the issue.  But, we, as consumers, don’t need to be silent.  Let’s be loud.  Let’s shout out the benefits of Fair Trade and how it can be the solution to the important issues of our day.

Fair Trade.  It’s a solution to Climate Change, not the issue.

— This blog entry is part of Blog Action Day – a global day of social media action where thousands of people across the globe are blogging about this year’s theme of Climate Change.

— Learn more about Fair Trade from the Advocate of Philippine Fair Trade, Inc (www.apfti.org.ph) a non profit social development organisation who have been spearheading fair trade in the Philippines since 1994.

Buy Fair Trade:  The Fair Trade Shop Philippines has two branches:

The Fair Trade Shop, Cebu – 102 Jose R Martinez Building, Osmena Blvd, Cebu City. Opening Hours – 10am-7pm, Mon to Sat.

The Fair Trade Shop, Cagayan de Oro – Door 108 Ground Floor, De Leon Plaza Bldg, Yacapin cor Velez Sts, CDO. Opening hours – 9.00am-6pm, Mon to Sat

Welcome to EcoLivingPhilippines

Namaste!  Thank you for dropping by EcoLivingPhilippines, a site that aims to be a one-stop-shop of information about responsible and ethical living in the Philippines.  EcoLivingPhilippines is run by Cherie McCosker, an Australian who has been living in the Philippines since 2007.  I have enjoyed spending the last 2.5 years scouring the country for quality environmental and socially conscious products and services that cater to the conscious consumer.  Please enjoy the blog, and I hope it inspires you to also travel the road less travelled.  Trust me, going down the responsible lifestyle path isn’t easy, but I promise it will be worth it.