Trade justice for the developing world and for this generation is a truly significant way for developed countries to show commitment to bringing about an end to global poverty.

— Nelson Mandela

What is it to choose compassionate consumption?

Each time you purchase a good or patronize a service, you have a choice — and that choice makes a statement. Together with UUSC, you can act on a deep commitment to workers' rights, ethical eating, and building a just economy by choosing to spend wisely, in alignment with your values. Find out more.

Fair trade in a global economy

Across the world, we are facing a moment of profound challenge — and opportunity. People are looking for options other than "business as usual." At UUSC, we support people in helping each other build strong partnerships that serve real human needs before profit. Supporting fair trade is central to UUSC's commitment to strengthening human rights and dignity for workers in this global economy. Fair trade is a set of principles and practices that more equitably distributes wealth and provides producers and farmers with a living wage.

Around the world, workers and small-scale producers in the Global South are some of the most negatively affected by current patterns of economic globalization and trade. Excluded or undermined by policies and structures that do not recognize or meet their needs, millions of small-scale producers are unable to gain access to fair markets, seek adequate protection from market risks, or avoid exploitation in the global marketplace.

Trapped in a vicious cycle of low returns for back-breaking work, these workers are unable to make a sustainable living, and they face huge obstacles to claiming their human rights, including lack of adequate housing, education, and health care.

To address this challenge, small-scale producers and farmers organize into cooperatives that are democratically governed, collective enterprises based on equity, sustainability, and self-sufficiency. Forming co-ops give them access to affordable credit, long-term trade relationships, and the opportunity to make investments in their local communities. Another benefit of working together is the opportunity to participate in fair trade.

» Learn about the movement for an alternative economy

Domestic fair trade

Fair-trade practices are playing an increasing role in the United States. The domestic fair trade movement has grown out of an understanding that fairness should not just be promoted within the realm of international trade, but also in our own backyards. Farmers, workers, and rural communities in the United States are facing many of the same negative impacts of industrialized agriculture and economic globalization as small farmers and producers in the Global South.

The principles of domestic fair trade include the following:

  • Full labor rights, including a living wage
  • Capacity building for producers and workers
  • Democratic, participatory ownership and control with transparency and accountability
  • Equality and opportunity for women, racial and ethnic minorities, indigenous peoples, youth, and other marginalized members
  • Family-scale farming and sustainable agriculture
  • Long-term trade relationships

» Learn more about domestic fair trade from our colleague Equal Exchange.

UUSC's approach to strengthening fair trade

UUSC strengthens fair trade by helping secure the human rights and dignity of those made most vulnerable in trade relationships. We do this in the following ways:

  • Partnering with fair-trade and worker-led organizations to achieve humane working conditions, deepen producers' skills and capacity to participate in trade practices and politics, and strengthen inclusive, sustainable communities
  • Leading UUSC members to learn about fair trade and to express their moral and political values through direct actions, experiential learning opportunities, and informed consumerism

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