What Is Fair Trade (and Why Does It Matter)?
More and more consumers today are holding companies to a higher standard: They want their dollars to go to businesses that not only produce high-quality products, but also do it in a manner that's ethical and sustainable. But practicing such "conscious consumerism" can be challenging: How is a customer in Colorado, for example, supposed to know if the Costa Rican coffee they're drinking was grown without hazardous pesticides or picked without the use of child labor?
What is Fair Trade?
Enter Fair Trade USA, a nonprofit organization founded in 1998 with the mission of reducing poverty around the world and promoting sustainable development. While products that carry the Fair Trade Certified™ label might cost a bit more than their non-certified counterparts, the movement's standards and practices deliver tangible benefits to businesses as well as their customers.
Here are just a few:
• At Fair Trade Certified™ factories, equipment and working conditions are monitored and assessed regularly to ensure workers' safety.
• Fair Trade advocates for transparency along a product's entire supply chain, from farm, field, or fishery to finished product. Being able to trace raw materials from their origins to their destination ensures that Fair Trade standards are upheld every step of the way.
• Fair Trade supports workers with economic empowerment that gives them the resources necessary to help their families and communities thrive.
• Fair Trade is a bulwark against exploitive labor practices. In the developing countries where much of the Western world's consumer goods are produced, workers don't have the opportunity for representation or to advocate for themselves. Fair Trade Certified™ facilities have policies and procedures designed to give workers a voice when negotiating with management or addressing a grievance.
Saatva and Fair Trade
That's why, when Saatva decided to launch a line of sheets, we chose to produce them in a Fair Trade Certified™ factory. Our Organic Cotton Sheets are made from organic cotton and eco-friendly, non-toxic dyes and are free of GMOs, insecticides, and pesticides. This continues the commitment to supply-chain transparency that we established with our mattresses.
Saatva's Sheets Are Produced in a Fair Trade Certified™ Factory
In today's global economy, supply chains for all kinds of consumer goods can criss-cross country or even continental borders multiple times. With conventionally produced goods, there often is no way for a socially conscious consumer to know whether or not the components of the item or the finished product were made in a manner that exploited workers or the environment. (That's one reason you should pay attention to where your mattress comes from.)
Beyond quality control, environmental consciousness and sustainability are huge parts of the Fair Trade movement. At Saatva, we've made a commitment to sustainability. Our innerspring mattress was even named Sustainability Product of the Year by Business Intelligence Group. Our luxury innerspring mattress uses organic cotton, eco-friendly foams with Certi-PUR certification, thistle-based flame retardant, recycled steel support coils, and Guardin® natural antimicrobial treatment. Plus, our mattresses will never off-gas in your home. As an additional effort of contribution to Fair Trade and sustainability, we make our mattresses in America, which allows us to reduce our carbon footprint.
Check Out Saatva's Eco-Friendly Mattresses
How does organic certification fit in?
While it's easy to make the connection between better health and avoiding fruit and vegetables that have been treated with potentially dangerous chemicals, the reason why organic farming matters for your sheets and mattresses might not be as clear to many consumers. (Learn what an organic mattress is here.)
Fair Trade isn't the same as organic, although there is a certain amount of overlap between the two categories. Our Lofton sheets, for example, are made from 100% organic cotton that is produced in a way that eschews toxic pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, then tinted with eco-friendly dyes, in keeping with environmental standards of a Fair Trade Certified™ factory.
While the focus on workers' rights and wellness is unique to Fair Trade, environmental standards such as minimizing waste and avoiding dangerous chemicals or pollutants are closely aligned with the standards for organic production. No genetically engineered seeds are used in the production of our Lofton sheets, and the method of cultivation helps to replenish, rather than deplete, soil nutrients while it promotes healthy agricultural biodiversity.
In addition to being good for the environment, organic cotton sheets are also good for your health. Organic cotton sheets are hypoallergenic, so they're a great pick if you have allergies. They're also free of many chemicals that can cause skin irritation. Finally, organic cotton sheets are lightweight and breathable, which will allow you to have a cool and comfortable sleep.
So sleep easily, knowing that the comfort you enjoy as you drift off helped to preserve the planet and contributed to the economic empowerment of farmers and factory workers.