Is Your Town A Fair Trade Town?

Is your town a Fair Trade Town? If you live in Media, Pennsylvania, Brattleboro, Vermont, Milwaukee, Wisconsin or Amherst, Massachusetts, it is. And if you don’t? There may be a group of advocates working to make your town a Fair Trade Town, too.

Fair Trade Towns USA is a group of advocates working to promote fair trade on the national and local level. It acts as a resource group that assists local communities in individually establishing their status as Fair Trade Towns. But there is no single governing body that certifies a town or city as a Fair Trade Town. Rather, each community may publicly declare that it is a Fair Trade Town once the town has met the five goals set forth by Fair Trade Towns USA. Those five goals are:

1. A local Fair Trade Steering Committee is formed and meets on a regular basis. The purpose of the steering committee is to engage in education, outreach and events in order to increase awareness of and demand for fair trade products.

2. A number of stores, cafes and other retail outlets in the Fair Trade Town carries fair trade products, including products that are Fair Trade Certified by TransFair USA and products sold by members of the Fair Trade Federation. The number of retail outlets suggested by Fair Trade Towns USA is proportional to the population of the town seeking Fair Trade Town status. For a town of 10,000 or less, there should be at least one retail business selling at least two lines of fair trade products for every 2,500 residents in a town. For a town of more than 10,000 residents, there should be at least one store for every 5,000 residents.


3. Fair trade products are used by a number of local institutions, such as places of worship, schools, hospitals and offices.

4. The local campaign reaches out to local media, including press and radio, to gain visible public support.

5. The town or city council of the Fair Trade Town passes a resolution supporting fair trade and the local fair trade towns campaign and commits to serving fair trade products at its meetings.

Fair Trade Towns USA was inspired by Fairtrade Towns in the UK, where the first Fair Trade Town, Garstang, Lancashire, was recognized in 2000. There are now hundreds of Fairtrade Towns in the UK.

More and more towns and cities in the United States are working to become Fair Trade Towns, including Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Boston. And if your town isn’t a Fair Trade Town, it may be one of the towns working to become one.

Kathleen Hobbins is the President and CEO of Sister Kate’s Products, LLC. Based in Chicago, IL, Sister Kate’s is an e-commerce company specializing in fair trade products. Visit Sister Kate’s website at: [] Kathleen is committed to fair trade and other social justice issues.

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