Extension of 'Fair Trade lifestyle' for Apparel & Home Goods
TransFair USA, the third-party certifier of Fair Trade Certified products in the United States, announced that it is extending the "Fair Trade lifestyle" into cotton clothing, bed and bath products. The first Fair Trade Certified apparel and home goods products are expected to hit U.S. retail shelves in spring 2010. To ensure the highest impact program for Fair Trade Certified garments, TransFair USA is now seeking public comment on its new draft factory standard. The pilot standard is published on TransFair USA's Web site beginning Nov. 16 for a 45 day public review and comment period.
The new standard extends strong labor protections based on International Labour Organization Conventions to garment workers in factories and sewing cooperatives. It builds on the success of Fair Trade at the farm level and follows extensive research and collaboration with garment workers, factory managers, non-governmental organization advocates, companies and consumers.
"Consumers have become increasingly aware of humanitarian issues in the garment industry. They want to make ethical choices but are faced with very few options," said Paul Rice, president and CEO of TransFair USA. "This new draft standard will give consumers the opportunity to use their purchasing power to guarantee fair prices to farmers and social justice for workers who sew their clothes. By wearing Fair Trade Certified garments, consumers will now have a voice in ensuring better factory working conditions and higher earnings for cotton farmers in countries like Mali, India and Peru."
For the first time ever, two points of the supply chain cut-and-sew workers and cotton farmers will benefit from Fair Trade premiums. U.S. companies that source Fair Trade Certified apparel will pay a percentage on top of the cost of the garment as a Fair Trade premium, which goes directly to factory workers who decide democratically how the funds are spent. Additionally, cotton farmers will earn a guaranteed minimum price and Fair Trade premium to invest in community needs such as schools, health centers and infrastructure.
"Fair Trade garments could be path-breaking in the field of ethical business," said Gopinath Parakuni of Cividep, a workers rights organization in India, where Fair Trade apparel will be made. "Through Fair Trade, workers can begin to truly have a choice about how to be represented in the workplace and how to communicate with their employers."
TransFair USA and Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International collaborate to ensure that the chain of custody is tracked from the farm to the finished product. FLO certifies cotton producers and audits processors against Fairtrade standards, and TransFair USA certifies the cut-and-sew factory against this new pilot standard.
TransFair USA's current list of Fair Trade Certified products now spans more than 20 categories from coffee, tea and cocoa to flowers, wine and even sports balls. Through thesales of Fair Trade Certified products in the United States which hit an estimated $1.2 billion in 2008 TransFair USA has delivered nearly $150 million in additional revenue to farmers and workers in rural communities throughout the developing world.