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What is Ethical Trade and Why We Need It

By Edited Aug 7, 2015 3 2
Credit: Ethical Trading Initiative, photo from ethicaltrade.org

The world is a wonderful place they say… and I believe them! It is place full of beauty; wherever you look you will discover beauty, if you want this that is! For good or for worse, beauty is to be discovered, it is not offered to anyone by default. Optimism, positive thinking and eagerness to insist on all things that really matter can guarantee to you that beauty will reveal itself to you! Having said that, it doesn’t mean that there is not a lot of injustice and pain in the world in different corners of the world, in places like Africa or South Asia.

Whether we like to accept it or not, there are so many places in the world where all of the things that we take for granted in the West are only a dream or an improbable wish. That said this doesn’t meant that one must punish himself by feeling guilty and stop appreciating what he has or what he has earned lawfully and after of years of hard work for him and the people he cares about. It could mean though that one should be aware that the world has so many issues to deal with and that sometimes it’s also up to us to help, always within our powers I mean. The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) is one of the ways the world, and consequently us, can help shaping up a better, more livable, world.

What is Ethical Trade?

Ethical trading Initiative
Credit: photo from ethicaltrade.org

For starters, ethical trade is merely an effort for trade to be socially and environmentally more responsible! It is something that one could have argued that is common sense actually: better wages for the workers which could guarantee a better, more decent life, for all those that actually produce most of the consumer goods we enjoy.  Ethical trade requires the joined effort of companies, trade unions and voluntary organizations to work together for a better and fairer way of doing business. 

The Ethical Trading Initiative in particular, is an effort that started in 1998 for the cause of a world that can include the interests of all. According to Wikipedia, over 70 companies participate in this initiative, companies that have turnover of more than £107 billion! What is more, the trade unions that participate in the initiative represent around 160 million workers around the globe. It is clearly that we are dealing with a serious initiative that actually wishes to change things, to alter the way we understand “business as usual”.

Ethical Trade - The First Decade

Learn about Ethical Trading Inititative's work

The Body Shop is a member of ETI

Credit: Photo from Body Shop's Twitter

One of the companies that participate to this initiative since the beginning is the beauty retailer The Body Shop. The company seems to have understood that even if the consumers are occasionally, and hypothetically speaking, only interested on what could be the best hand cream for themit certainly is not to their best interests to neglect reality. A more fair trade guarantees a company’s reputation and proves in action that understands its responsibilities towards people and society. Other companies that participate on the ETI program would be Tesco, Supremia, London Underground, and Marks & Spenser among others.

Fair Trade

Credit: photo from fairtrade.net

Apart from the ethical trading initiative, there are other efforts for the same cause. The Fairtrade International (FLO) is one of the most well known organizations fighting for more equality and justice. Fair trade products are worldwide distributed and during the years were met with relatively success by the consumers. According to the organization, over 1.2 million producers and 58 countries from the developing world are benefiting from the program. What is more, Fairtrade certified sales reached the amount of €3 billion some years ago according to the statistics of the organization… not bad eh!?

To sum up, we live in times were actions speak louder than words. The so-called economic crisis that hit Europe some years ago might hang around for a little while more, if we judge by what we read daily to all of the news sites. Therefore, the need to fight for a better world, and for a fairer way of trading, is now much more urgent than we might have thought only a few years ago. My personal wish would have been for many of us to start realizing that this world is never going to change unless… if we change first! 

A Fair Story

A Fair Story is an original short film telling the global story of Fairtrade.



Mar 26, 2013 11:24pm
Good article! I really wish that more people would get behind ethical trading and ethically produced and sourced products. I actually have issues with the whole "New Age" idea,of only seeing the positive. There is actually a lot of injustice and misery in this world, which needs to be addressed. Most of us in Western countries can choose "ethical" products.
Mar 27, 2013 2:27am
I know what you mean Imprimatur... we need to be alert more than we need to lay down pretending that we didn't hear anything... of course, everyone helps and tries according to his/her powers...I guess buying ethical products is something many of us could do...
Thanks you for your comment.
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