World Fair Trade Day – May 1, 2021

SatMay 1

World Fair Trade Day is on the second Saturday of May and its purpose is to celebrate the contributions to the fight against poverty, exploitation, and climate change. The Fair Trade movement is all about ensuring that workers around the globe are treated fairly with decent wages and working conditions. There are thousands of people currently working in unfavorable conditions and being paid poorly. It shouldn’t matter where someone lives, everyone deserves to be treated with respect.

History of World Fair Trade Day

In the 1940s, a woman named Edna Ruth Byler sold textiles from the trunk of her car. She was a wife, mother, and entrepreneur, and though she didn’t know it then, she would help start a movement. In 1946, Byler went to the La Plata Valley in Puerto Rico and met a woman who was going through hard times. She was struggling to feed her family after the Depression and Byler was inspired to do something. Byler noticed all of the fine embroideries the women in the area created and thought of expanding their business by selling their work to her friends and neighbors.

By the 1950s, she had started her small business. Using her car filled with needlework to women’s sewing circles and at parties all across the country. As she did this, she told the American people where these works of art came from and the workmanship of the women. In so doing, it gave the women of the La Plata Valley economic security and it gave Byler success in her own life.

What started out as a seemingly small act of kindness then became a movement as the business became Ten Thousand Villages. Around the world, people were starting to realize that workers needed to be taken care of. In 1964, the first Fair Trade Organization was created that had initiatives to help worker relations between Chinese Refugees in Oxfam shops that were selling crafts to the UK. Then, in 1967, the Fair Trade Original was established in the Netherlands with similar initiatives.

Formerly the International Federation of Alternative Traders, The World Fair Trade Organization was created in 1989. They would hold yearly conferences for groups working in fair rade to decide on the best practices pertaining to working conditions, and in 2004 they created World Fair Trade Day. The continuing goal is to fight against poverty and exploitation, climate change and the economic crisis to ensure that those who are most vulnerable in society are protected.

World Fair Trade Day timeline

2004
Making the World Fair

The World Fair Trade Organization is created to maintain livable working conditions and fair wages through social missions.

1967
Fair Trade Organizations

The first Fair Trade Organization is created with initiatives to help Chinese Refugees and more fair trade organizations followed.

1950s
Sewing Circles

Edna Ruth Byes sells needlework made by Puerto Rican women to people in the United States to give the women economic security.

1940s
Discovering Talent

On a trip to La Plata Village in Puerto Rico, Edna Ruth Byler notices that women are going through a difficult time selling their fine embroidery.

World Fair Trade Day FAQs

What does the World Fair Trade Organization do?

The World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), is a global association of 401 organizations who are committed to improving the livelihoods of economically marginalised producers.

Is Fair Trade really fair?

Fair trade goods have to be properly labelled through a recognized licensing scheme such as the FAIRTRADE mark, licensed by the Fairtrade Foundation. Fair trade doesn’t just mean farmers and producers receive more money so they can support their families in the short term — though that’s vitally important.

What does the World Fair Trade Organization do?

The World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), is a global association of 401 organizations who are committed to improving the livelihoods of economically marginalised producers.

How To Celebrate World Fair Trade Day

  1. Shop fair trade online

    One of the best ways to celebrate World Fair Trade Day is by supporting workers. Instead of using your normal retailers for your items, see what you can purchase at www.fairtradefederation.org You can search over 200 verified fair trade businesses that are all fully committed to equitable and sustainable trade.

  2. Attend a virtual event

    There are virtual conferences that can inform you even more about building a sustainable future. You can learn more about the movement leaders and hear from industry experts who are driving social innovation and sustainability. You can also connect with campus and community organizers and explore other ways to get involved in helping the global community.

  3. Promote a fair trade organization

    Research fair trade companies that interest you and research their story. Then, take to social media and tell others about their business and how their service is helping the world.

5 Interesting Facts About World Fair Trade Day

  1. On the mark

    The Fairtrade Mark is an independent consumer and registered certification label for products that operate a fair deal for workers and employees.

  2. Fairtrade in the UK.

    There are 4,500 Fairtrade Mark products in the UK.

  3. Number of products

    Products with the Fairtrade Mark are sold in over 120 countries.

  4. Chocolate ownership

    Divine Chocolate is the only chocolate company in the world that's fully owned by farmers.

  5. Workers united

    There are over 1.4 million farmers and workers worldwide who produce Fairtrade products.

Why World Fair Trade Day Is Important

  1. It helps the most vulnerable

    When there’s money to be made, the most vulnerable people in society are the ones that are hit the hardest. World Fair Trade Day draws attention to the importance of gender equity and committing to quality living conditions for workers.

  2. It puts the planet first

    With global warming threatening the Earth, the way that companies produce materials needs to shift. It’s important to monitor companies that could potentially harm the Earth, and fair trade makes sure that environmentally friendly production is adhered to.

  3. The theory of change

    Fair trade places a focus on workers with the belief that by advocating for them, it shifts the global systems of inequity to create a stronger future that allows communities to strive. There’s really a science to it all.

World Fair Trade Day dates

YearDateDay
2021May 1Saturday
2022May 7Saturday
2023May 6Saturday
2024May 4Saturday
2025May 3Saturday