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Choice Organic Teas Works with the United Students for Fair Trade

Choice Organic Teas supports the United Students for Fair Trade (USFT) by providing organic and Fair Trade Certified™ tea donations and educational literature for numerous college and university events across the country. The USFT is a national network of student activists and organizations working to raise awareness and expand the demand for Fair Trade alternatives on campuses and within their communities. The students involved in this organization are at the forefront of the Fair Trade movement advocating for Fair Trade products, policies and principles.


United Students
for Fair Trade
www.usft.org

Fair Trade Certified™ Tea:
A Warmer Cup

Fair Trade is a partnership between tea pluckers, tea traders and tea drinkers.
The Fair Trade Certified™
label guarantees:

• Fair wages for tea workers
• Safe and humane working
  conditions
• Adequate housing and
  medical care
• Freedom for workers to
  organize
• Absence of forced labor
  and child labor issues
• Environmentally friendly
  farming practices


Fair Trade USA
Fair Trade Certifier

 


In 2000, Choice Organic Teas became the first tea crafter to adopt Fair Trade Certified tea in the United States.

Choice Organic Teas partnered with Fair Trade USA to write the guidelines that established a Fair Trade Certification process for the tea industry, as the hierarchy of the tea estate owner/manager to the worker who plucks the tea differs greatly than from the coffee industry. Fair Trade USA previously established Fair Trade certification in the United States for the coffee industry in 1999. Fair Trade certification addresses the injustices of conventional trade, which traditionally discriminates against the poorest workers in economically developing or third-world countries. Products from economically developed countries such as Japan and the United States cannot qualify for Fair Trade certification.

Today, more than half of Choice Organic Teas' offerings are Fair Trade Certified, far surpassing the numbers of any other tea company in the United States. While we are proud of that, we’d be a lot happier if more tea companies joined us in this effort.

On many traditional estates, tea workers live on the estate and toil long, hard hours for extremely low wages. The development of Fair Trade Certified tea standards guarantees fair wages, respectable living and working conditions, and a worker-managed premium. This premium represents additional funds, which are paid by Fair Trade registered importers like Choice Organic Teas directly to tea workers. It empowers them to improve their own lives. The workers collectively decide how they wish to manage the Fair Trade funds.

Here’s how some worker communities have chosen to use the Fair Trade premiums received in part by the purchase of Choice Organic Teas.

Empowering Women
The women who pluck tea on the Korakundah Tea Estate, in the famed Nilgiri region of India, use the funds received from Fair Trade premiums to help support themselves upon retirement. Now, retired tea pluckers receive a monthly pension and funds to help build a home when they return to settle in their native villages.

The Next Generation
Workers at the United Nilgiri Tea Estate in India chose to use funds received from Fair Trade premiums to purchase a school bus, allowing students to continue their education through the 12th grade. Previously, children who lived in the neighboring village amid hilly terrain were able to attend school only at a local elementary school. But due to their deep poverty, there was no money for transportation, and the children could not attend any advanced grades. Now, local children are bussed to a school where they are taught both English and the local Tamil language.

Social Empowerment
The tea workers at the Koslanda Tea Estate, in Sri Lanka, have voted to use Fair Trade premiums to provide their community with low interest loans that would otherwise be unattainable. Households have purchased propane stovetops, eliminating hours of collecting firewood, improving the indoor air quality of their homes, and preventing deforestation of the surrounding area. The purchase of sewing machines has meant a diversification of income.

Emergency Assistance
The tea estate workers who produce our organic White Tea have chosen to use their premium to provide scholarships to estate children who want to attend university. The premiums also are dispensed to tea workers and their families in need of emergency surgery beyond the means of the local estate hospital.

Continuing Education
The workers with the Bergandal Boerdery collective who harvest native Rooibos in the perfect growing conditions of South Africa use the funds received from Fair Trade premiums to guarantee the sustainability of their existing community programs. Classes currently encompass HIV/AIDS education, first aid treatment, and life skills training for women.

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