Fair trade is a movement to help the producers of goods receive fair treatment. Fair trade plays an important role in maintaining fair wages and living standards for sellers of all kinds of products, particularly in less developed countries.
Choosing fair trade furniture helps you decorate your home in an ethical and sustainable way. This guide will walk you through why buying fair trade home furniture makes an impact and will provide you with recommendations for where to buy high-quality fair trade furniture.
Background Information: Fair Trade Pros and Cons
Why Buying Fair Trade Furniture Makes an Impact
The extra time it takes to find fair trade furniture is worth it, as fair trade helps ensure the furniture is made sustainably and the producers are treated fairly. When a producer becomes Fairtrade Certified, they agree to follow a set of strict fair trade standards that ensure ethical and sustainable production practices.
The fair trade movement seeks to bring about change in four areas:
- Small producer and worker organizations: Ensure sustainable production and fair working conditions for the people producing the products, often located in the Global South.
- Supply chain business practices: Ensure that companies who sell the products engage in ethical and sustainable behavior and support ethical small-scale producers
- Consumer behavior: Encourage consumers to support ethical, fair trade products
- Civil society action: Encourage growth of the proportion of trade that occurs on fair trade terms and ensure fair trade practices become more mainstream
While fair trade standards may vary by product type, they all share the same overarching goals of improving working conditions for workers and avoiding exploitation. Fair trade standards help ensure that:
- Working conditions are safe
- Workers earn a living wage
- Workers have the power to unionize
- No labor is forced and working hours are limited
- No child labor is used
- Furniture is produced using sustainable practices
Fairtrade Certification also provides producers with a Fairtrade Premium, an extra amount of money they receive on top of the price of their products. This Premium can be used to fund communal projects, such as increasing healthcare, ensuring clean drinking water, or building schools.
To become Fairtrade Certified, companies must complete an application and undergo an audit of their supply chain. This process is designed and controlled by a fair trade organization such as Fairtrade America. Fair trade certification helps customers easily assess the ethics of a company by looking at the label, without having to do a deep dive into the company’s supply chain themselves.
When you buy fair trade furniture, you help support producers that are dedicated to these ethical standards.
Fair Trade Home Furniture
There is a wide variety of home furniture items that are produced using fair trade standards.
- Bed frames
- And more
Here are some great fair trade and sustainable furniture companies to choose from.
Masaya and Company
Masaya and Company is based in Nicaragua and partners with local Nicaraguan farmers, millers, carpenters, and other artisans to create their furniture. They sell a variety of furniture items, including tables, desks, couches and fair trade bookcases that are hand-made from sustainable hardwood. Their bookshelves are not only ethically-produced, but are made using wood grown on previously deforested cow pastures. This helps to store carbon in the furniture itself, as part of their “Seed to Seat” business model.
The Citizenry is a fair trade furniture and household goods company; in fact, they’re the first home retail company to have 100% of their products Fairtrade Certified. Their name, “The Citizenry,” was designed to reflect the many individuals who work to craft each product, including artisans and designers.
The company focuses on providing support to artisans, and actually pays twice the fair trade wage requirement. They partner with over 3000 artisans in over 22 countries. You can find all kinds of fair trade furniture from all over the world, from hand-woven benches from Mexico to wicker coffee tables from Indonesia to leather chairs from Argentina.
Kazi Goods describes their products as “works of art, that provide steady work, for artisans.” All of their products, from furniture like tables to home decor like woven planters, are fair trade and hand-woven in the artisans’ homes in Africa. Kazi Goods emphasizes the importance of paying fair wages and supporting artisans’ communities and local economies.
For example, this fair trade table is hand-woven in rural Rwanda from natural fibers and features eye-grabbing patterns. It makes a great statement piece and is perfect for decoration or to use as a small coffee table.
Avocado makes all things bed-related, from pillows to mattresses to bed frames. All of their products are fair trade and sustainably made. Not only are they Fairtrade Certified, but they are also a certified B Corp and Climate Neutral certified.
Avocado’s products are designed thoughtfully with a wide array of customers in mind. Their fair trade bed frames, for example, come in a variety of designs and types of sustainable wood, from simple wooden platforms to bed frames with built-in bookshelves. They even have a fair trade bed frame for dogs!
Made Trade is a marketplace for ethically and sustainably produced products. They sell a range of fair trade furniture products from different fair trade brands, including fair trade headboards, fair trade mirrors, fair trade bookcases, fair trade tables, and more. Their products are not limited to furniture, as they also sell clothing, shoes and a variety of gifts.
This list is by no means exhaustive of the many fair trade furniture sellers that exist. Many fair trade organizations like the Fair Trade Federation or Fair Trade USA include product finders on their websites that can help you find fair trade products near you no matter what kind of home furniture you’re looking for.