Quick Directory of Ethical Terms

Hello everyone, 


Happy Monday! This week, as I reflect on what I want to talk about, I’m reminded of why I started this business: education. For me, it has always been about helping consumers navigate the confusing world of ethical sourcing and find products that align with their values. 


I have been working in the fair trade industry for awhile now and even I need to learn the latest terms and definitions companies are using to describe themselves. A few months ago, I wrote a blog about all the different fair trade certifications and their key differences. 


Today, I’m going to do a quick run through of the top terms I see being used! It’s important to note as a customer the increased occurrence of “greenwashing” that is happening, as well. This is when companies use terms as a marketing ploy that don’t actually mean anything. For example, changing the colour of their packaging to green and throwing the word ‘natural’ on it. 


I know that, even after you read this, questions will come up. And that’s okay! Please reach out to me as I’m more than happy to talk through your comments or concerns. It’s what I love to do! Let’s learn and grow together- remembering that we will make mistakes along the way :) 


  • Fairtrade- This term is typically associated with the Fairtrade International logo. It means the product has been certified by a third party and meets a certain set of standards. These include workers’ rights, safe working conditions, and fair pay. A community premium is also paid to producers that they can use towards needs such as healthcare, education etc.

  • Fairly traded (or fair trade)- This is the term you will see me use often- I even named my business after it! This means that the business follows fair trade principles but isn’t necessarily certified by a third party. There are many reasons for not having a logo including cost and type of good. I always do my research when brands use this term to make sure they are actually doing what they say they are. 

  • Direct trade- This term is pretty self explanatory- it means that the trade is occurring directly between producers and the business selling their products. Often with no “middle man,” more money can go directly to the producer but this isn’t always the case. We have to be careful with this term because a direct trade doesn’t always mean a fair one. 

  • Ethical- This is a vague term that I see being tossed around a lot. What exactly does ethical mean and for who? Ethical can apply to the treatment of people, animals, the environment etc. So if you see a business promoting ‘ethical sourcing’ I encourage you to ask them what that means to them. 

  • Sustainable- Another word I see being used more and more frequently! The word sustainable means “able to be maintained at a certain level” We see it used these days in place of terms like eco-friendly, fair trade, low waste and so on. Just like the term ethical, when you see the word sustainable being used, I encourage you to ask what this means and for who. 

  • And that’s it for today! A very quick run down of the top 5 words I see used in the fair trade space. I imagine this won’t be the only blog I do as there are many more terms to discuss: organic, natural, zero waste, eco-friendly, vegan, cruelty-free...the list goes on! 


    As I said in the beginning, I encourage you to explore what values matter most to you when shopping and find products that align with those. 


    If you have any questions about where to find them- I’m happy to help! 


    Have a great week, 


    Mel 

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