MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - The Fair Trade Initiative is a nationwide movement that promotes fair pay and working conditions for farmers and producers around the world.
Their philosophy: No more making a couple cents a day, no more working 20 hours in a day...
Fair trade products are labeled and promoted based on how the company treats its workers and the environment.
“Mankato is one of 37 fair trade towns in the US at this point," explained Margo Druschel from the Mankato Fair Trade Initiative. "Chicago is the biggest fair trade town and Mankato is still the only one in Minnesota.”
If you go to the grocery store and are thinking about fair trade products, look for the symbol that means it is fair trade certified.
“Fair trade is kind of a remarkable way that those of us sitting here in Mankato, Minnesota, in the center of the US, can make an impact with our purchasing dollars,” added Druschel.
There are products you probably buy quite a bit of that are Fair Trade Certified.
This includes coffee, tea, bananas, sugar and clothing.
If certified, it ensures the employees making/distributing these products are not only payed a fair wage, but the community it's made in receives much needed money as well.
“10% of profits go back to communities," said Druschel. "Those communities then go back after the year and decide where to invest.”
One community even invested in a couple of school buses for their high school students.
Before the buses, school in this community stopped after 8th grade.
In 2012, Sticks n Stones in Mankato started implementing Fair Trade Items into stores.
Now, seven years and many education sessions with customers later, the passion has grown and the store is selling a lot more Fair Trade clothing items.
“We really kind of feel like our role is to be that bridge between the brands that we love and believe in and the people behind them as well as our customers,” said Sticks n Stones employee Shelbi Harris.
In addition to fair pay and working conditions, supporters say Fair Trade is better for the environment, produces higher quality goods and it makes what you buy matter.