You are smack dab in the middle of a three part series on the economics of fair trade. Last time we looked at some costs beyond price tag. Now let’s take a minute to stare at the price tag. Let’s be honest, if you buy something with the Fair Trade label it most likely will cost more than its counterpart. How much more?
The previous post A Bargain’s Hidden Cost may have tweaked your interest but you may also have come away saying to yourself, “Yeah, this is all well and good but I only have so much money I can spend.” The question to be answered in this post: Is it possible to care about ethically sourcing your daily needs and stay within your budget?
Last time we used coffee as our example so let’s stick with that. Let’s say you go through three pounds a month for your morning pick me up. You can get a pound of Seattle’s Best certified fair trade and organic at Target for $7.72. From the same retailer you can pick up a pound of Folger’s for $4.51. (per Target online pricing February, 2016) In this scenario, you would spend $9.63 more a month to drink higher quality fair trade coffee. That’s $115.56 a year. To some of us that might be chump change over the course of a year, to others of us it could be a stretch.
If it is a stretch, I beg you to not consider our example in isolation. There are other things you buy. And I put it to you that you can actually save money by buying some of those items with ethics in mind.
Consider clothing. We’ve all heard of scandals and abuses in the clothing industry, young children working twelve hour days and the like. If you buy second hand, not only can you secure some mighty fine and fashionable clothing at a huge discount (certainly potential savings in excess of $100/year), you also avoid unsuspectingly supporting any sweat-shop supplied company.
But say you’re still stretched and doing all you can to save where you can. You still don’t have $10 extra to spend a month. I will make a crazy proposal. In your commitment to support people who are growing coffee the “right way”, you cut down from three cups of coffee a day to two. That way you can recoup the difference. Is imposing limits on ourselves such a bad thing? Or is limiting our own consumerism just what this world needs?