terra, not terror

sharing ideas about a simpler way to live

Wal-Mart goes Fair Trade (coffee) May 20, 2008

Filed under: social consciousness — terra @ 7:00 am

In its quest to improve its image and gain new customers, Wal-Mart has ventuered into organic food, energy saving appliances, and now, Fair Trade. That’s right, Wal-Mart is selling Fair Trade goods. They have decided to pay people a fair wage for the products they produce and supply to the mega-store. Wal-Mart is starting with Fair Trade coffee, but if it sells well, maybe they’ll move into other fair trade goods, like clothes, food, paper products, you name it. Maybe they’ll learn that it’s nice to pay people a living wage for the work they do, and pay everyone fairly! Fair Trade products are often no more expensive than their non-Fair Trade counterparts. The difference is that the people who made your stuff have a chance to improve their lives and communities.

Fair Trade goods are not only made with the producer in mind, but the environment as well. You can be sure that your fair trade coffee wasn’t first drenched with pesticides, and your clothes will be made from organic materials. This is also better for the workers, since a lot of the stuff we buy are produced in countries with fewer worker protection standards in place than in the U.S.

While this is nice, David Nassar of the Organic Consumers Associations suggests “If Wal-Mart wants to ensure that producers of coffee are paid a living wage, it should show the same concern for people who produce the 139,000 other products that they sell at the store.” And, Beth Maxwell of American Rights at Work points out that “consumers who want to respect workers’ rights around the world have helped create a demand for fair-trade products, but Wal-Mart should know that the same consumers also care about how companies treat their workers in the U.S. as well.” Wal-Mart is aggressively pursuing the 5 goals set by H. Lee Scott, but a lot of consumers are still demanding more.

Wal-Mart’s pursuit of Fair Trade is great, but more is required before Wal-Mart becomes a responsible member of society.


3 Responses to “Wal-Mart goes Fair Trade (coffee)”

  1. Stacey Says:

    So much needs to be done in addition to doing fair trade…they also need to make themselves eco-friendly in their construction of walmarts, reduce so much waste and so on…In addition to the treatment of their workers. Not to mention the economic impact that they have on various communities!

  2. terra Says:

    Absolutely! I think the good news is that Wal-Mart’s small steps show us all that our protest works! We won’t shop at their stores until they treat their workers better and are environmentally responsible. They’ve heard us, and they’re taking steps in their own way. They have a LONG way to go. Even if they pay people a living wage, with insurance, and turn around their environmental impact (which would mean not buying everything from China), they still kill local business. Most of us will continue to struggle with that, and will probably still not shop there.

    I don’t shop at Wal-Mart, but I think it’s important to point out the impact of such a huge corporation. Their investment in Fair Trade will actually improve the lives of so many workers in South America. They’re also exposing their shoppers to the benefits of Fair Trade.

  3. [...] Wal-Mart goes Fair Trade (coffee) « terra, not terror Post a comment — Trackback URI RSS 2.0 feed for these comments This entry (permalink) was posted on Wednesday, May 21, 2008, at 6:19 amby George Nemeth and categorized in Coffee, Uncategorized. [...]

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