Source: El Paso Fair Trade Coalition

This first post of my Ethical Goods series is dedicated to tea, since I’m a big tea drinker. And being the crunchy and chic person that I am, I want to be knowledgeable about where my teas come from. A Google search of “tea+plantation+labor” yields many articles on issues involved with the production of this ubiquitous drink. I’m nearly finished using up my dubiously-sourced teas from my pantry and am replacing them with ethically sourced teas.

I say ‘ethically sourced’ instead of ‘fair trade’ because the latter requires expensive certification that many small companies, farmers, and coops can’t afford.

The following is a list of tea companies I have come across that sell ethically sourced tea with excerpts of their commitment statements. I will continue to add to this list as I find more companies.

  • Mountain Rose Herbs: [O]ur Good Trade Program is a business model where the growers get full negotiation rights for the products they grow, and they in turn dictate what prices Mountain Rose Herbs shall pay for goods, and not the other way around. When the growers set the price, we can all be assured that farming families and workers receive the financial security they feel is necessary to continue their agricultural heritage that we all rely upon for our very survival. Virtually all of the dried herbs and spices that Mountain Rose Herbs offers in bulk are in accordance with the Good Trade Program.
  • Republic of TeaAll of The Republic of Tea’s products are fairly traded, helping people and our planet by promoting systems that foster economic development and sustainability. However, it is financially challenging for some of the gardens we work with to gain the Fair Trade Certified stamp
  • Numi: We strive to have a positive impact on our global community by partnering with tea gardens committed to Organic and Fair Labor Practices. This guarantees that workers receive fair wages and safe working conditions for an improved quality of life. We also work with local organizations that employ adults with disabilities, turning disabilities into possibilities. […] Since our initial product launch in 1999, we have made it a priority to only support suppliers who ethically support their workers.
  • Rishi TeaOur firsthand experience in many tea-growing regions led to our heightened awareness of the dire need for social responsibility. […] The TransFair USA Fair Trade Certified projects with which Rishi partners directly support a better life for the tea-farming families and their communities through fair prices, fair wages, safe working conditions, environmental sustainability, education and community development.
  • Zhena’s Gypsy Tea: Zhena’s Gypsy Tea is proud to be one of the earliest supporters of the Fair Trade movement dedicated to building equitable and sustainable trading partnerships that create opportunities to alleviate poverty. The company stands in solidarity with the tea workers and empowers them by paying a pro-active premium which provides and supports fair wages and added benefits such as better housing, healthcare, education and a sustainable environment.
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