Ecuador w/ Fair Trade USA
nick & i recently got home from a whirlwind 7 days in Ecuador with the loveliest of companies, Fair Trade Certified. if you’re unfamiliar with them, it’s the label you see on goods that are manufactured ethically & sustainably! we got to take a real look at the ground floor of the company & learn what your dollar is supporting when you purchase Fair Trade products. the impact that it has on people & communities across the globe is astounding & i'm so happy to be able to share what i learned on this trip with you!
what does ethical + sustainable manufacturing entail? we sat down with a group of employees at the Agrocoex rose farm in Latacunga, Ecuador & got to ask them about what Fair Trade does for them & why that makes their job ideal.
here are some of the benefits of their Fair Trade program:
the workers have an on site doctor & dentist that the employees get to use instead of paying high prices on their own for healthcare.
they also have an on-site laundromat; workers at non-fair trade operations generally work 6 days a week & then do all of their laundry for their family on their one day off. with this program, they’re able to take their laundry to work & have it washed & folded by the time they’re ready to go home!
the latest project is that there are 95 homes in the process of being built for the workers to purchase at low costs so that they’re able to purchase a permanent + safe home instead of spending money on rent each month with no option to ever buy a home. photos of the housing project will be below!
employees get 21 vacation days & fair wages. the workers literally said they hope to work at Agrocoex until the day they die. the owners truly care about their benefit & aren’t concerned with being millionaires. they’re rather have happy, comfortable, loyal employees!
overall, their Fair Trade program is changing all of their lives for the better. when you purchase items with the Fair Trade Certified label, you’re supporting workers like these, improving their livelihoods & contributing to operations that have safe, environmentally beneficial practices at their factories.
i was totally moved by this experience & am so thankful to have been able to see the behind the scenes of these operations & to learn who your dollar is supporting when you purchase Fair Trade. putting actual faces to the program shifted my perspective in such a big way!
P.S. we got to see all of the roses that were about to be shipped out to our local Whole Foods & New Seasons that are right down the street from my apartment! i’ll absolutely continue to buy those roses, especially being aware of who they are directly impacting!
the other Fair Trade site that we visited was a cocoa farm & factory!
we got to take a look at the whole process — from picking the cocoa fruits, to drying them out individually, to melting them & creating the chocolate. we met the owners of the company & got to take a look at their new packaging & tour the brand new factory that they’re in the process of building. they're creating the factory with Fair Trade standards in mind so to get it certified right away. i.e. it has lockers for employees to store their things & large, spacious, separate gender bathrooms so they can feel secure at their workplace. there is a break/lunchroom & lots of windows. non-FT sides typically don't have lockers or places to store belongings, separate bathrooms or time for breaks let alone areas for breaks or lunch.
it was an amazing space! it was pretty dark inside so i didn't grab any photos of it but all of the photos below are of the current production facility & the farm that the cocoa is grown on!
and lastly, here are some other favorite images from the trip!
we visited Latacunga, Cotopaxi & Calceta.
one more thing!
as i write this post at 4am on my fourth night of food poisoning & 100.7º fever post-trip, let me recommend a few ways to prevent getting sick in a third world country!
1. bring charcoal pills & take them daily. we forgot to do that this trip & it probably would have made our lives significantly easier, haha
2. take a probiotic pill each day or seek out Kombucha from a health food restaurant or store
3. bring water purification tablets & even add them to large bottles of "purified" water. we feel like the small regular bottles were definitely purified, but the larger ones that claim to be might not always be & that could have been what got us sick.
we don't eat meat & we didn't eat any street food & only ate at restaurants that the tour company booked us at. we also ate pretty much the same meals as everyone else during the whole trip.
we just heard back from the group & it turns out everyone else has food poisoning/parasites as well – we're all eating mostly the BRAT diet & nick is at the store getting some supplements/vitamins/other recommended items as we speak! thankful that we have been able to take care of each other as we take turns being intermittently sicker than each other (lol)
i'm so curious as to what it could have been that got us all sick since we tried to be as cautious as possible!
but anyway! sickness aside, we were super grateful to learn all that we did on this trip & visit the very beautiful country of Ecuador! thank you for having us Fair Trade!