On a beautiful fall day we arrived at Bentley University in Waltham, MA, to see a large tent filled with vendors for the third annual Fair Trade Day. Bentley is largely a business college and the Service Learning Program is incorporating fair trade into the curriculum. This was Women’s Peace Collection’s second year as a participant and the event had grown significantly since last year. The crowds were bigger and there were many more vendors selling everything from fair trade coffee, tea, chocolate and a variety of beautiful crafts. And of course Ben and Jerry’s was there giving out free ice cream.
What impressed me most were the students. They were excited about shopping for a cause and asked thoughtful questions about how we source our products, what percentage the artisans receive, what makes the items fair trade, and so forth. Our new jewelry collection made by survivors of human trafficking in India was the best seller of the day – not only are the pieces beautiful but these young students loved the idea of helping the women who made them and were touched by the tags which say “made with love” and signed by the artisan. They were buying for themselves and for loved ones and clearly understood fair trade and its impact. And incidentally, I met a professor who teaches a sociology course on human trafficking – Bentley is on the ball!
We have participated in fair trade events at other colleges, including Siena College in Albany, NY, and Worcester State University in Worcester, MA. I absolutely love being at these events. It’s thrilling to meet students who are passionate about making a difference in the world and who understand fair trade as a vehicle for change. It gives me hope for the next generation and for our planet.