Fair Trade certification has expanded to include apparel and home goods, with the first garments available in retail stores by spring 2010. TransFair USA, the only third party certifier of Fair Trade Certified in the U.S., is calling for public comments on its new draft factory standard, where Fair trade premiums are available to the cut-and-sew workers and cotton farmers:
Paul Rice, president and CEO of TransFair USA, speaks to the new draft standard, below.
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. 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.
American 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," according to TransFair USA.
Through their collaboration with Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO), the chain of custody can be tracked from the farm to the final product. In short: "FLO certifies cotton producers and audits processors (such as ginners and spinners) against Fairtrade standards, and TransFair USA certifies the cut-and-sew factory against this new pilot standard. "