Students highlight fair-trade benefits

UH Students for Fair Trade will host a week’s worth of events to educate and entertain the campus community in honor of Fair Trade Month.

President Tiffany Le said educating students about the impact of their daily purchases is paramount.

"With non fair-trade coffee, farmers only receive $.10 per pound sold," she said. "They can’t sustain a family, a community or education for their children with that. With fair trade coffee, they get $1.26 per pound."

If a company is not affiliated with the fair-trade movement it can be impossible to determine how the company treats its workers, Le said.

"Companies could be using child labor, and sometimes they create an atmosphere that’s almost like slavery, where workers can’t even use the bathroom," Le said. "With a fair-trade certification, we can be sure that this isn’t happening."

After the group launched its UH campaign, dorms, JavaCity, Einstein Bros and Starbucks all carry fair-trade coffee, Le said.

"Its amazing that we have fair-trade coffee on campus, and we can make better choices as consumers," she said.

This week’s events will commence with a jazz performance by the Houston-based brass band Free Radicals at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at the University Center Arbor.

"They were a great band for this occasion because they’re actually social activists," Le said.

The student organization will also hold an open house from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday at the UC Cougar Den. Representatives from Katz Coffee and Wholesome Sweeteners, who sell fair-trade coffee and sugar, respectively, will speak with students about their choices as a consumer.

Christopher O’Brien, director of the Responsible Purchasing Network at Center for a New American Dream and author of Fermenting Revolution: How to Drink Beer and Save the World, will speak at 7 p.m. Thursday at the UC World Affairs Lounge.

"Educating people about fair trade is his job," Le said.

Students can also take a free tour of Katz Coffee on Friday.

Transfair, the only third party non-profit fair trade organization in North America, and Campus Progress, an organization that specializes in educating students and promoting social activism, will sponsor the occasion as a way to promote Fair Trade Month.

"This is the third year we’ve done this, and we had a pretty good turnout last time," Le said. "It gets better every year."

For more information about this week’s fair trade events, visit

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