What Are the Different Types of Fair Trade Gifts?

Alex Tree

There are many different types of fair trade gifts, including clothing and accessories, fruit, and sweets. In fact, almost any item can be acquired fair trade if one looks hard enough. Sometimes, fair trade gifts are not available in brick and mortar stores, but can be found in an Internet shop. Whatever the occasion, there is probably a suitable fair trade gift to give.

A fair trade gift basket.
A fair trade gift basket.

For coffee lovers, suitable fair trade gifts might be a bag of fair trade coffee or a gift certificate to a coffee shop that sells fair trade coffee beverages. This is one of the easiest fair trade products to come by, because some of the most popular coffee shops now serve fair trade coffee. For example, StarbucksĀ® purchased more than 80% of its coffee from ethical sources, and aims to exclusively purchase fair trade by 2015.

Fair trade coffee beans.
Fair trade coffee beans.

Clothing is another type of fair trade product that can make a great gift. It can be difficult to find fair trade clothing in brick and mortar stores in some regions of the world, but there are plenty of options available online. Fair trade clothing benefits economically disadvantaged producers by giving them a reasonable price for their goods. The quality of the clothing is usually on par or, in many cases, exceeds that of mass produced clothing.

Fair trade chocolate.
Fair trade chocolate.

Fair trade jewelry benefits both the producers that craft the jewelry and the people who mine the pieces' stones and metal. Like fair trade clothing, fair trade jewelry is not widely found in brick and mortar stores because mass produced items are less expensive and available in higher quantities. It is not necessary to buy a specific piece of jewelry to gift, though; a lot of fair trade organizations offer gift certificates to be given to friends.

Around a quarter of bananas sold in Europe and the United States are fair trade food.
Around a quarter of bananas sold in Europe and the United States are fair trade food.

Another kind of fair trade good is chocolate, which can be acquired in bars or powder form to make hot chocolate or baked goods. Fair trade chocolate comes from producers that grow their own beans. It is widely available in Internet shops and organic grocery stores.

Fair trade gifts can also be in the form of gift baskets, like fruit baskets. Grocery stores, organic ones in particular, sometimes carry fair trade fruit such as bananas. Normally, these items are marked as such with a sign or sticker placed directly on the fruit. Fair trade fruit might be especially rare in some jurisdictions, because the fruit trade is mostly owned by large corporations rather than the average farmer.

Many fair trade organizations offer hand crafted jewelry for sale.
Many fair trade organizations offer hand crafted jewelry for sale.

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Discussion Comments


@irontoenail - All of that can be taken into account by choosing the right organization to trust in the first place. There are several stores I can name off the top of my head that are dedicated to only sourcing environmentally friendly, ethically sourced items, and they are usually very transparent about the way they go about it.

One of my favorite examples is LUSH (which sells bath products) because they are very cautious about how they source their materials. They were going to phase out palm oil altogether because production of that is such a strain on the environment, but realized doing that would harm small producers, so they made a conscious decision to reduce it and get it from the right places instead. That's the kind of fair trade products that will make a difference in the world.


@bythewell - It's not enough to just get items that are labeled fair trade though. There is controversy surrounding a lot of that labeling. Fair trade coffee, for example, is often set at a price that is supposed to be "fair", but ends up being sold below market value because the organization won't shift the price down or up.

It still costs more than the average coffee in the supermarket though because it's being sold as fair trade.

Often a co-operative is a better option for local farmers because they have much more control over pricing, but then they aren't entitled to the official label "fair trade".

Also, often materials like fair trade cotton make up for the loss in labor costs by using methods of farming that aren't environmentally sound. There is definitely a difference between fair trade and organic and for some people one might be just as important as the other.


Make sure that the items you purchase are certified fair trade by a reputable organization, and if it's particularly important to the person you're buying for, you might like to see if you can trace the item right back to it's origin. Often fair trade stores in particular will have a lot of information about how an item is crafted or grown and even about the daily lives of the people involved.

Including a small description of this with the item (particularly a decorative or coffee-table type item that could be a conversation piece) will enhance the gift considerably.

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