woman holding black shoes

We all have the power to speak up with our purchasing power. While none of us is actively trying to harm the planet when we buy a new pair of shoes, that is inevitably what happens when you don’t do any research into the brand beforehand. We should all feel a responsibility to be a bit more conscious when it comes to choosing products like our footwear.

To understand exactly what goes into fair trade shoes, we’ve compiled the short guide below. It not only explains what fair trade is, but gives examples of how to find fair trade products.

What is Fair Trade?

Fair trade is a qualification that encompasses multiple facets of the production of goods. The fair trade system takes into account the prices of goods, working conditions and wages of employees as well as the materials, production and packaging of goods. Fair trade goods are created in safe environments with legally aged workers who receive fair wages. The goods themselves are produced sustainably without producing excess waste.

Popular Fair Trade Shoe Brands

Looking for shoes that you can trust as fair trade isn’t always easy. Walking into a store at random probably won’t result in finding fair trade products. However, there are plenty of companies who are striving to not only create beautiful shoes, but also ones that are good for the planet.

With just a little research, you can learn more about the production process behind your favorite shoe brands. This is a key action to take if you are trying to be a sustainable, ethical consumer. Being informed on how the products you purchase are crafted makes you a smart shopper and has the potential to enact a positive change in footwear and apparel production. Here’s a brand that is frequently vetted for their sustainable practices.

CARIUMA: Stylish and comfortable skate shoes and sneakers made with sustainable materials like bamboo, cork, and 100% organic cotton. For every pair of shoes purchased, the company plants two trees in Brazil.

Identifying Fair Trade Shoes

Now that you know what fair trade includes, how can you tell what products, like shoes, are fair trade and which aren’t? Follow these steps and you should be able to tell.

1. Look for a fair trade seal

If a product is fair trade, you’ll likely see a fair trade label used in their packaging. This is the easiest way to identify whether or not a product is fair trade.

2. Visit the brand’s website

If there isn’t any label on their packaging, a brand might say that they are fair trade on their website. Do some research to see how transparent they are about the production of their goods.

3. Check Good On You

Good On You is a great website to find more information about the sustainable practices of a company. They have rated thousands of brands based on the following: planet, people, and animals. You can see the companies to avoid as well as recommended companies to support.

4. Speak to Someone from the Company

If you want more information than what you can find online, try contacting the company personally and asking what their policies are in regards to the fair trade system.

5. Avoid Fast Fashion Retailers

Keep in mind that most fast fashion retailers are lagging behind in regards to sustainability. These businesses thrive on creating cheap garments that are usually only worn a few times and then thrown away. Not only is this level of waste terrible for the environment, but with costs so low, they are often culprits of fair labor violations. Workers might be underage, paid very low wages, or working in dangerous conditions in order to cut costs.


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