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Groups Offer Fair Trade Trick-or-Treat Kits
Media Organization:OneWorld US
Date of Publication:Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Fahima Haque and Jeffrey Allen | Read it on OneWorld US
WASHINGTON, Sep 30 (OneWorld) — Several advocacy and humanitarian organizations are asking Americans to participate in "reverse trick-or-treating" this Halloween to help build awareness about inequities in the global cocoa industry and alert consumers to Fair Trade chocolate alternatives.
For the second year in a row, Co-Op America, Global Exchange, and other internationally minded nonprofit groups are sending Fair Trade kits to consumers across the United States for free, enlisting them in efforts to raise the profile of the chocolate products across the United States.
When children go trick-or-treating, they give back Fair Trade chocolate to the houses they visit. "It's great way to share a friendly Fair Trade message with your neighbors," says Co-Op America.
The Fair Trade chocolate is attached to a card with information on problems of poverty, child slavery, abusive child labor, and environmental degradation in the cocoa fields, explains San Francisco-based Global Exchange. The cards also explain how buying Fair Trade products makes a difference.
Selling within the Fair Trade system generally enables farmers to earn a higher return from their crops, thus improving lives and economies in poorer communities worldwide. In return, farms must certifiably meet certain environmental and labor standards.
The Fair Trade umbrella spans many industries -- from chocolate and coffee to rice, bananas, flowers, and even crafts -- and aids workers in developing countries throughout the world. Many groups in the United States have launched efforts in recent years to promote the Fair Trade concept -- and the products that bear its logo -- to consumers.
Donations from Fair Trade chocolate companies Alter Eco, Equal Exchange, La Siembra, and Theo Chocolate enabled the "Reverse Trick-or-Treating" coalition of 10 nonprofit organizations to offer the candy and explanatory cards free of charge. The deadline for consumers to order reverse trick-or-treating kits is Oct. 13.
The event has been deemed a resounding success in the past, making it a hit among humanitarian groups.
"Last year, reverse trick-or-treaters brought Fair Trade chocolate to the doorsteps of over 72,000 houses in the United States and Canada," says the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, a faith-based organization that is also a member of the coalition. "Parents raved about how reverse trick-or-treating transformed Halloween into a meaningful event, when children could give back to their neighbors and to cocoa-growing communities."
Americans for Informed Democracy (AID), a nonprofit group that works with young people to promote an interconnected world, has produced a Fair Trade fact sheet [pdf] for students to use on college campuses to help encourage their schools to purchase fair trade products.
Over 100,000 children in the West African nation of Cote d'Ivoire work on cocoa farms in exploitative conditions, the group says. "Many work for 12-hour days conducting hazardous types of work, such as using machetes to open cocoa pods, carrying heavy loads, and applying pesticides," the group explains, adding that approximately 10,000 of those children are victims of human trafficking or enslavement.
AID also promotes fair trade flowers for Valentine's Day, noting that in northern Ecuador, for example, young women working in the standard flower industry earn very low wages and regularly face sexual harassment. "Rampant" pesticide use also causes higher-than-average rates of premature births, congenital malformations, and miscarriages, says AID, noting that "Fair Trade products provide an alternative."