In today's fast-changing consumer landscape ethical sourcing and fair trade practices are become increasingly important. As customers prioritize sustainability and social responsibility - retailers are recognizing the need to adopt ethical practices more than ever.
What is fair trade sourcing?
Ethical sourcing for eCommerce refers to the responsible procurement of materials, products, and services by brands. It involves a commitment to transparent and fair business practices that prioritize social and environmental considerations.
The Significance of Ethical Sourcing in eCommerce
The eCommerce sector has experienced incredible growth in recent years - providing consumers with unparalleled convenience and access to products from around the globe. This increase in demand has resulted in increased pressure on supply chains and the planet as a whole.
In line with shifting consumer values and increased pressure on the planet, there has never been a greater need for businesses to prioritize more sustainable and ethical products and materials.
eCommerce has a heavy reliance on the story behind their products. Including photos, product descriptions, reviews, and information on sustainability and sourcing practices. By partnering with ethical suppliers and manufacturers, eCommerce brands can assure their customers that they are committed to upholding high standards of fairness and responsibility.
Ethical Sourcing Certifications
There are many common certifications and programmes that a business can take part in like B Corp and its alternatives - these certs can cover many different aspects from environmental sustainability to employee happiness. However, for a focus on ethical sourcing, there are some great practices that should be prioritized:
safe working conditions
following child labour laws
reducing carbon emissions
reducing animal habitat destruction
no animal testing
Fair Trade International (Fairtrade) is a global organisation promoting ethical trading practices and empowering farmers and workers in developing countries. Their major focus is on ensuring that producers receive fair wages, have safe working conditions, and adhere to environmentally sustainable practices.
Some prominent brands that carry the Fairtrade certification include:
Ben & Jerry's
Ben & Jerry's have a strong brand and are committed to any social and environmental initiatives. The use fairtrade-certified ingredients, such as cocoa, sugar, and vanilla, in many of its products.
They use high-quality chocolate made from Fairtrade-certified cocoa. They are also co-owned by cocoa farmers ensuring they have a stake (and a voice) in the business.
Numi Organic Tea
Numi provides organic and Fairtrade-certified teas emphasizing sustainable and ethical sourcing practices in their tea production.
Equal Exchange offers a range of Fairtrade-certified products, including coffee, tea, and chocolate - they prioritize making mutually beneficial relationships with small-scale farmers.
The Rainforest Alliance is a non-profit focused on promoting sustainability and ethical practices in the agriculture, forestry, and tourism industries. Rainforest Alliance conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices, and consumer behaviour.
A few proud Rainforest Alliance supporting brands include:
Chiquita started working with Rainforest Alliance in the early 1990's in an effort to improve their sustainability efforts and credentials. They work with the Rainforest Alliance to certify their banana farms utilize responsible and sustainable farming practices.
Tetley also works with Rainforest Alliance to certify its commitment to sustainable sourcing.
Fair For Life
Fair for Life is another certification program focused on promoting fair working conditions and social responsibility. Fair For Life and its certification is relevant to a number of industries including food, cosmetics, and textiles. The core pillars of Fair for Life include; Community Impact, Transparency, and Environmental Stewardship
Some prominent brands that carry the Fair for Life certification include:
This well-known brand of organic and fair trade personal care products, including soaps and lotions, holds Fair for Life certification.
Alter Eco specializes in fair trade and organic food products, such as chocolate, quinoa, and rice. Their commitment to ethical sourcing is reflected in their Fair for Life certification.
The Role of Charitable Organizations in Promoting Ethical Sourcing
Another powerful tool for supporting ethical and sustainable practices is to go beyond the certifications and support some other organisations working adjacent to the industry
Project Waterfall a nonprofit organization bringing clean water and sanitation to coffee-growing communities.
In many regions where coffee is grown local communities lack access to clean water and proper sanitation. By supporting Project Waterfall, the e-commerce brand not only addresses a fundamental human need but also contributes to the long-term sustainability of the coffee industry.