Wednesday, April 16, 2014
   
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It is Memorial Day weekend and for many it is an extended break from school and work. It is also a time that families and friends get together to celebrate what makes our country great and acknowledge those who worked to make it so - veterans and active members of the armed forces.

Not everyone is called to serve in the military, those that protect us, and yet everyone can still do their part to help protect citizens all over the world. How? By thinking globally and acting locally, and choosing FAIR TRADE. 

So, when possible purchase items that are made or grown locally. But if you choose to enjoy products that can not or are not made in the United States, ie. coffee, bananas, chocolate, choose FAIR TRADE. Fair Trade supports local, co-op farms and farmers, pays a living wage, prohibits child labor, supports gender equality, and cares for the environment. 

While we take a break to rest and recharge before hitting the daily grind again, producers elsewhere in the world can not take a break because they need to provide for their families. Help them out by choosing FAIR TRADE whenever you can. Can't find a product? Tell your grocer to stock up!

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Mother’s Day is the official day of the year that mothers and mother-figures receive special recognition for the work that they do. Observed all over the world at various times, Mother’s Day is a chance to take a break from the routine and celebrate.

In the US, Mother’s Day traces its roots to the work of several women for different reasons. Some of the first groups gathered for peace for families whose sons died in the American Civil War; some rallied for disarmament in the 1870s; while others assembled around issues of temperance. All of these were smaller celebrations, not making it to the state or national level. It wasn’t until 1910 that West Virginia became the first state to make Mother’s Day an official holiday, and several states promptly followed. In May 1914 Congress passed a law declaring the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

With such a rich history it is almost shocking to see the commercialism that Mother’s Day has become today. More than that, it is disheartening to know that people are being hurt and exploited by our socially obligatory gifts. What is meant to be a time of thoughtfulness ends up being just another careless purchase.

The International Labour Organization has been tracking the many areas of labor. They have shown that over 70% of global poverty is in rural areas. It is also these areas that rely on agriculture as the primary way to make a living. It is women and children who are affected most directly by this unemployment and underemployment for a variety of social and political reasons.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can honor the women in our lives and make a greater impact by choosing Fair Trade. The Fair Trade certification ensures that, among other criteria, products are made an environmentally sustainable way, that the producers are paid a living wage, and that the cooperative is run democratically giving women a voice.

So when you are out picking up something special for the mother in your life choose Fair Trade! Scarves, jewelry, chocolate, household textiles, and even flowers are available. And as an extra bonus to this, many of the locally owned fair trade stores in Chicago are also owned and managed by women. Check them out here!

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637 S. Dearborn 3rd fl. Chicago, IL 60605 | 312-212-1760 | njones@chicagofairtrade.org