Halloween is one of my favorite holiday seasons. I take any opportunity to gorge on sugar and dress up like my favorite Mean Girls characters gleefully. But I also love this time of year because it gives me an excuse to stand on the soap box for one of my most valued causes: Fair trade.
Americans spend billions of dollars on Halloween candy, and it's my hope that more of that money will be purchased for treats of the fair trade variety. Fair trade is a system of exchange for goods that have been produced with ethical standards. That means when you purchase fair trade products, your money is going toward the sustainability of communities that rely on just wages. This is crucial for workers in developing countries that produce cocoa, sugar and other food staples. And, what has always held the most weight for me, child labor is prohibited under fair trade practices, meaning that kids have the freedom to enjoy their childhoods, while adults can provide for their families.
As a child, knowing that kids my age could be harvesting the cocoa beans that went into some of my favorite chocolate treats broke my heart. That's why to this day I'm strict about my chocolate intake, which is largely comprised of fair trade treats. I even wrote my college entrance essay about the importance of fair trade in my life and my personal campaign against child labor.
Depending on the age of your child, you can go as in depth as you want in explaining fair trade. But at the heart of it is a simple concept: giving people what they deserve for the work that they do. It's a notion that encourages compassion toward others and doesn't have to get political in terms of global economics or market competition. You and your family don't have to make major lifestyle changes, either. Just incorporating a few products into your daily life is an altruistic initiative, from cleaning your home with fair trade supplies to wearing fair trade fashions. If you're unsure if your goods are fair trade certified, just look for the logo on the packaging to confirm its authenticity.
I know for many parents, Halloween is more of a hassle than a celebration, often culminating in stomachaches and hyperactive children. That's why I love introducing people to fair trade, which opens up a kinder, gentler side of Halloween. At least when you turn off the porch light and send your kids to bed, you can feel good about giving your trick-or-treaters and your own witches and monsters candy with a conscience. Now that's sweet.
Here are some of my favorite fair trade certified treats: