Why do we care about fair trade products and what does it means? From my understanding, in a globalizing world, it is vital that we understand where our products are being grown and under what conditions. This affects the quality of the products we buy as well as the impact we have on those who’s livelihoods depend on growing, watering, planting, harvesting and all the other processes involved in bringing our products from raw material to our hair and skin.
You have probably seen some of the following words advertised on packaging as you go to purchase products:
While all of these ideas are great in theory, none of these terms are legally defined and regulated in their use. They do not have consistent definitions and are generally vague in nature. Many companies will use these words as a form of “greenwashing” – tricking the consumer to think a product is sustainable and ethical when it is not. So, what should we be looking for in our products, especially ones we use for our hair and skin?
One of the regulated and certifiable ways of knowing your products are ethically sourced is by finding products that are designated as being Fair Trade.
What exactly is fair trade?
Fair Trade ensures an ethical partnership between companies in developed countries and producers in developing countries. Often, U.S. companies will outsource production in other countries because it is cheaper than producing the same product in the U.S. However, the tradeoff is that these developing countries do not always have protections for laborers ensuring that they are paid a livable wage. As a result, these businesses are continuing their unfair practices.
Fair Trade Organizations (FTOs) do not condone this and can be identified by the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) Mark.
More than encouraging ethical trade, Fair Trade also advocates for putting people and the planet first in business by fighting poverty, climate change, and economic crisis. The Home of Fair Trade Enterprises estimates that they have impacted 965,700 livelihoods through their efforts.
Why is Fair Trade Important?
Fair trade works with businesses, consumers, and campaigners to create a fair environment for all parties included. It sets social, environmental and economic standards for both companies and farmers/workers. Without these standards, the workers’ rights are environmental conditions are at stake. Fair Trade companies only work with schemes that fulfill their values and adhere to their standards. This ensures that farmers and workers are paid a fair price and have adequate say in the trade process.
In addition, Fair Trade standards cover environmental protections such as energy use, gas emissions, soil and water quality, pest management, biodiversity protection, chemical use, and waste management. So, if you are buying an FTO-certified product, you can be comforted knowing that the product was created with the environment in mind.
While Fair Trade is a widely-known concept, it has taken longer than it should for it to penetrate into certain industries, such as cosmetics. The initial focus for Fair Trade was on crops such as bananas and coffee, where the standards were particularly bad. With a growing list of certified ingredients, Fair Trade is becoming more accessible to the beauty industry. Companies like Conscious Coconut, Fair Squared, and Honeystreet handmade are not only adhering to their Fair Trade Certification, but also giving back to the communities they are sourcing their products from.
OWAY sources its products from Bologna, where we grow zero-mile plants, shrugs, and aromatic herbs that become ultra-performing complexes of essential oils, extracts, and hydrolates. OWAY uses cooperation with international networks of fair trade purchase to support the development of poorer countries. When you purchase and use OWAY products, you will be demonstrating conscious consumer choices that prioritize people and the planet over profits.
Here are some of our Fair Trade Products to consider:
Glossy Nectar: This oil shines, nourishes, and rebuilds hair leaving it soft, silky, and manageable.
Curly Hair Potion: This lotion is specifically designed for curly and permed hair, separating and defining curls by shaping, moisturizing, and modeling them.
Smooth +: This complete set includes shampoo, conditioner, hair cream, and a serum that will create sleek, straight hair styles with Biodynamic Caraway Extract, Organic Rose and Fair Trade Buriti Oil.