By Phil Wakelyn
Fair Trade USA [formally TransFair USA], the third-party certifier of Fair Trade Certified™ products in the US, on Nov. 17, 2009 extended the "Fair Trade lifestyle" into cotton clothing, bed and bath products. [The pilot standard is published on Fair Trade USA's Web site at http://transfairusa.org/content/certification/apparel_program.php . The new standard extends strong labor protections based on International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions to garment workers in factories and sewing cooperatives. It builds on the success of Fair Trade at the farm level and follows extensive research and collaboration with garment workers, factory managers, non-governmental organization (NGO) advocates, companies and consumers. Fair Trade certification for Apparel and Linens is a social, economic and environmental standard that directly benefits the farmers who grow the cotton and the workers who sew the garments. It offers companies and consumers an unprecedented opportunity to positively impact the lives of these farmers and workers. On 1 Dec 2010, the first Fair Trade certified apparel and home textiles products were launched in the US as part of a two-year pilot test. The Fair Trade Certified label is intended to make it easy for American consumers to walk into a store and choose an ethical garment. The scheme builds on the success of Fair Trade at the farm level, where Fair Trade certified products span more than 20 categories. Garments include graphic tees by Project Runway's Korto Momolu and Bacca da Silva from Liberty & Justice, boxers and organic women's undies from Good & Fair, and tees from sustainability pioneer PrAna. All have been produced by manufacturing facilities and cooperatives in Costa Rica, India and Liberia. More lines, sourced from India, Liberia and Peru, will be launched in spring 2011. With the Fair Trade Certified label [ http://www.transfairusa.org/ ], consumers can now be confident that cotton farmers and factory workers earn more and have safe working conditions, the environment was protected, and the people who made the high-quality product can look forward to brighter futures. Factory workers receive direct economic benefits through a Fair Trade premium, between 1% and 10% of the cost of the garment, potentially doubling their earnings on a per-product basis. And cotton farmers receive a guaranteed minimum price to protect them from price fluctuations as well as community investment premiums on every pound of cotton.