Supporting Fair Trade coffee is an act of consumer advocacy and social justice. It happens when people ask store-owners to stock Fair Trade products, purchase Fair Trade Certified products themselves, and educate friends, family, and even the general community about what Fair Trade is, and why it is important to purchase certified products.
The easiest way to get involved in consumer advocacy for Fair Trade Products is by joining a national campaign to encourage more coffee shops to highlight and serve Fair Trade Coffee. It can take as little as a 30 second conversation with a store manager to convince them to serve Fair Trade Coffee in their store. The most important part of ‘Café Hopping’ – as it has become known – is to be courteous and encouraging. Many managers have never heard of Fair Trade, and don’t know about the issues facing coffee farmers. When ‘café hopping’, first look around to see if the store has any Fair Trade Certified products. If they don’t, wait until there is a lull in business and ask to speak to the manager. In your conversation, you should ask them if they know about Fair Trade Certified coffee, and if they don’t, give them a brief summary. If they do know about it, let them know that you would be very interested in purchasing it from them.
Consumer advocacy is slowly making an impact. On October 4, 2000, Starbucks -the world’s largest specialty coffee chain – introduced whole bean Fair Trade certified coffee at over 2,300 stores, bringing the number of Fair Trade outlets to more than 10,000 nationwide. Fair Trade activists are now urging Starbucks to not merely stock fairly traded coffees but to actually promote them. In August 2001, the Seattle Coffee Co. joined the Fair Trade movement, agreeing to sell Certified Organic and Fair Trade Certified coffee in about 1,400 Safeway stores throughout the United States. In November 2004, Starbucks agreed to ensure that coffee sold in its stores comes from environmentally friendly farms paying workers a fair wage. By 2007, Starbucks expects that 60 percent of its coffee will come from farmers following strict rules on everything from forestation to pesticides to labor practices and will work with Oxfam to make this happen.
How Do I Get More Involved? Learn more about this issue! Check the websites listed below to hear the latest news on fair trade, and other issues of consumer activism.
Make an effort to buy fair trade, green, conflict-free, and sweat free items. Buy used/recycled goods. Use less. Many of the listed resources offer further suggestions for consumer advocacy. You are voting for the kinds of companies and business practices you would like to see succeed.
Reach out. Educate your synagogue. There is always room for help and new ideas. Organize a program with the youth group, religious school, etc; write an op/ed in the synagogue bulletin; write letters and call your congregational president urging him or her to serve fair trade coffee at all programs. Talk to your temple administrator and your social action committee about purchasing only Fair Trade Coffee for synagogue office use and events.
- Fair Trade and Jewish Text – hold a discussion with your Hebrew school class
- Hold Your Own Day of Action – Click here for ideas from Oxfam
- Ask for Fair Trade: Fill out a customer comment card at your grocery store and ask for Fair Trade products. Even if your store carries some products, ask them to do more! You can also write a letter to your supermarket. Oxfam America has more resources available to help you with your efforts. You can also use our Sample Letter for Super Market Managers on Fair Trade products.
Contact Albertsons and its subsidiaries at firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (A&P) and its subsidiaries at email@example.com
Contact Safeway and its subsidiaries at firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact K-Mart and its subsidiaries by filling out the form found here.
Contact Wal-Mart and its subsidiaries by filling out the form found here.
Contact Win Dixie and its subsidiaries by filling out the form found here.