When you stop to think of all of the social problems that plague our globe, the sheer number of issues to be solved can often seem overwhelming and leaves you thinking, “I’m just me. How can I change everything?” Along with the vast number of problems, there are quite a lot of solutions out there as well. It just often takes some education and research for you to find one that fits with your lifestyle and allows you to be an active participant in creating a better, more noble world. Fair Trade is one of those ideas that, if practiced by even a small percentage of the world, will begin to make a huge impact on developing countries across the world and should help you feel like you’re contributing.

Fair Trade is a social movement which essentially takes out the numerous middle-men in product buying and selling. Some of you may already be participating in this movement without even realizing it, especially when you purchase coffee from select big-named brands.

What exactly is this Fair Trade movement, you ask? It’s a pretty simple concept. Fair Trade is an ethical way of buying items made in developing nations. The current problem with trade today exists with products switching handlers multiple times before getting to the consumer. With each product manufactured in developing countries ordinarily and traditionally, manufacturers (which are often poor farmers or hurting store owners) sell their products at base cost and sometimes get swindled to go even lower than that by buyers. Once the initial buyer has purchased an item, they turn around and sell it for a higher price, and the next party sells it for a higher price, and so on, until a product that took 20 cents to make is now being sold for 10 dollars. The original manufacturer never sees this, and everyone else gets profits for simply handling a product.

A solution to this problem is the concept of Fair Trade. The product still gets sold to the consumer for the final price, or near it, but instead of letting the people in the middle collect money, the participating merchants give the proceeds directly to the original manufacturers. Doing this helps those poor, developing countries increase their economy and living environment because now, they’re making much more money with their products then they were before.

In participating with this type of purchasing, you can help balance the ever-widening gap between developed countries, such as the U.S. and Canada, and developing nations. On top of helping these countries become more self-sufficient, the movement promises equality in pay for women who would ordinarily be forced to work for low pay or free. Part of the great thing about Fair Trade is that you can purchase nearly all of your regular items from specialty stores that participate in Fair Trade! It just takes a little bit of research and Google to find one near you.

For more information on Fair Trade, visit the website of one of my favorite stores here in Vancouver called “Miranda’s Hat.” There is plenty of useful information for you to glean and put into practice, if this method to “be the change” is for you.