LMU has officially attained fair trade status as of February 18, meeting the five requirements set forth by Fair Trade Campaigns. These five requirements include building a team, reaching out to campus outlets, sourcing fair trade at events and meetings, committing to fair trade education and passing a fair trade resolution. LMU is only the second university in California to achieve fair trade status, following the University of San Diego.
Fair trade aims to justly compensate workers for the products that they create. According to the Fair Trade Campaigns website, “When you choose to purchase fair trade products, you are endorsing an economic system that provides opportunities for international farmers, artisans and workers to lift themselves out of poverty. Fair trade ensures consumers that the products they purchase were grown, harvested, crafted and traded in ways that improve lives and protect the environment.”
The fair trade movement at LMU was primarily spearheaded by senior entrepreneurship major Darlene Fukuji and Tom King, director of the Center for Service and Action, beginning in the spring of 2013.
Fukuji first found out about fair trade while in Washington D.C., where she saw a booth about fair trade and really admired the movement’s values. She was contacted by King, who had attended a conference, learned more about fair trade and was interested in making it known at LMU.
Fukuji and King formed a fair trade committee, comprised of a representative from each service organization, two representatives from the Loyolan and a representative from ASLMU. After forming, they held meetings to start working towards a fair trade status.
When the committee first started, they did many things to make fair trade known at LMU.
“We went around to each department around campus, asked what type of coffees they drank, and then educated them about fair trade and where they could get fair trade coffee,” said Fukuji.
The committee also put on a Fair Trade Awareness Week in spring of 2013, where many fair trade vendors came out to the farmers market at Convo and offered various fair trade products. They hosted a movie night during which the Lion’s Den, whose products are all fair trade, provided coffee. The committee has also helped at a fair trade conference and has spoken at the service organization gala about fair trade.
Fukuji mentioned that their efforts also had an impact on The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. After finding out that their coffee cart would be coming to LMU and discovering that they did not offer any fair trade products, the committee wrote to them and explained LMU’s efforts to reach fair trade status.
Fukuji later attended a meeting with The Coffee Bean, where they gave her a gift: their first blend of fair trade coffee, which will be the main blend on campus when they arrive.
The fair trade committee has worked hard since it formed to make sure LMU follows fair trade ideals. Because of the committee’s efforts, LMU now sells about 20 fair trade products in various places around campus, and the bookstore even carries fair trade clothing.
In the future, the committee wants to get every department on campus to serve at least one fair trade product. They also want to get more clubs on campus to use fair trade T-shirts for their club shirts to increase the amount of fair trade products around campus and to increase awareness by holding one or two events a semester.
On April 24, which is Earth Day, the fair trade committee will hold a celebration during Convo for attaining fair trade certification. On this day, the committee plans to officially present the certificate to the University. They also plan to hand out information slips to spread awareness and simply inform people about fair trade. There will also be several food vendors, including Ben and Jerry’s and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, handing out food samples.
Alison Sackerson, a junior political science major who will take over the fair trade committee when Fukuji graduates, explained why she believes fair trade is so important.
“To me, fair trade is important because when you purchase a fair trade product you are saying, ‘Yes, I support this product, the business that produced it and the means by which it was created.’ Fair trade encompasses so many things that I feel strongly about, such as sustainable practices and fair wages for producers. If I am purchasing a product, I would like to make sure that it is supporting these things that I feel strongly about, and fair trade certified products can ensure that,” she said.