Indiana Daily Student

Fair trade group thinking globally

The mission of global fair trade is simple, yet ambitious: to contribute to global economic development and poverty relief through education and promotion of products that adhere to fair trade principles.

Fair Trade Bloomington’s goal centers on supporting and representing the artisans and producers of goods and commodities, by promoting responsible environmental practices, safe and healthy work conditions and by making sure a fair price is established.

“We want to make sure that more of the profit goes to the producers of the product, such as coffee, and less goes to the middle man,” said sophomore Jessica Malczewski, Fair Trade Bloomington director of outreach.

The local chapter, like the global movement, strives to obtain these goals.

“Here in Bloomington we have a fair trade items store called the Global Gift store,” Fair Trade Bloomington President Mary Embry said. “They sell coffee, chocolate and handmade crafts that are all eco-friendly and fair-priced.”

In addition to Global Gifts, Fair Trade Bloomington partners with other organizations to help promote fair trade items sold in local retail stores.

Fair Trade Bloomington’s current goals include gaining more support in the community and extending its influence.

“Everyone can have a part and a chance to work on local and global initiatives,” said junior Gabrielle Cheikh, an advocate for community engagement through the Office of Service-Learning. “To IU students, fair trade has plenty to offer. We have people from all walks of life with different interests and studies.”

Sophomore Megan Wiedeback, Fair Trade Bloomington project leader, said anyone can get involved in Fair Trade festivities, regardless of experience.

“We need people to be involved and volunteer for this cause,” Wiedeback said. “Fair trade here in Bloomington is still in its infancy stage, and we need a lot of support to get it going.”

Malczewski said Fair Trade Bloomington will grow into a huge group where strong ties will be forged.

While still developing, Fair Trade Bloomington is looking toward future programs. The groups plans on sponsoring a student trip to areas directly impacted by the global fair trade, including Africa.

“We are trying to get involved in projects that require going overseas to help the fair trade process right at the source,” Wiedeback said.

The global Fair Trade Organization and its Bloomington extension now work with the The Village Experience, a socially proactive company that organizes trips to developing countries for educational and philanthropic purposes.

“Village experience is where students can do fair trade work and help promote free markets overseas in areas such as East Africa, which is a great experience,” Embry said.

This summer, two Bloomington representatives will be traveling to Kenya and Uganda through this program.

“We want to connect to a fair trade-producing community and sell their goods through our own local Global Gifts store,” Wiedeback said.

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