In a world of free trade, where does direct fair trade fit in?


February 24, 2011 :: Stacey Toews
Moderated by Lisa Lambert

7:00 – 9:00 PM
Lethbridge Public Library, Theatre Gallery, 810 – 5 Ave S


Despite its more than 60-year history, fair trade is still a relatively new concept for many North Americans and is unfortunately often confused with free trade. However, this has begun to change according to online surveys. Consumer recognition of Fair Trade-certified labeling has increased greatly in the past few years.
Awareness and understanding, however, are two different things. While more and more customers are loyal to the premise of fair trade, they don't necessarily know exactly what it involves, or that there are different "shades" of fair trading, just as there are with “green” products. Fair trade actively encourages better environmental practices, but it does not necessarily mean that the products are organic or environmentally friendly.
The speaker will outline how direct fair trade is desirable, but admits that the process, which includes close work with producers to help them improve efficiency, environmental standards and other conditions, can be painstaking and difficult to articulate. However, he feels it is an important, fundamental pillar of fair trade that cannot be reduced to a formalized logo.

Speaker: Stacey Toews

Stacey Toews is co-founder of Level Ground Trading, a Direct Fair Trade company based out of Victoria, B.C. Since 1999, Stacey has travelled across North America educating and engaging audiences about Fair Trade, sustainability and ethical consumer choices.

Stacey is passionate about social justice. He has quickly become one of Fair Trade’s leading advocates, encouraging critical and independent thought about our everyday purchases and how they affect people and communities that make the products we buy.

For Toews, sustainability is based on how people relate to each other and the environment, both locally and globally. His experience with Direct Fair Trade in producer communities has shown that environmentally sound practices flourish when people can be assured their livelihoods are secure.


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