When Fair Trade Meets Earth Day…

Earth Day, 1990

Tomorrow, April 22, is Earth Day – one of the few days of the year that all of us, internationally, come together for a common cause: to help further initiatives to protect the environment.

A movement that started as a grassroots movement in the 60s (the official Earth Day event was held on April 22, 1970!) has led to the development of hundreds of environmentally-conscious organizations nationwide!

Earth Day, April 1970

Today, the Fair Trade movement follows the Earth Day mission in working hard to  foster both social and environmental responsibility. After all, Fair Trade plays a huge role in not only advocating for the human rights of laborers worldwide, but also in the promotion of more sustainable agro-ecological practices.

Fair Trade’s commitment to sustainability promises, among many other things, the reduction of toxic chemical usage and the protection of complex ecosystems. As the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) states:

Organizations which produce Fair Trade products maximize the use of raw materials from sustainably managed sources in their ranges, buying locally when possible. They use production technologies that seek to reduce energy consumption and where possible use renewable energy technologies that minimize greenhouse gas emissions. They seek to minimize the impact of their waste stream on the environment. Fair Trade agricultural commodity producers minimize their environmental impacts, by using organic or low pesticide use production methods wherever possible.

This means that roughly thirty-percent of Fair Trade farmers dedicate their premiums to powerful initiatives that promote community development, reforestation, environmental education, and water conservation! So, choosing Fair Trade-certified goods means that we care about both the people & environment where our food is produced.

On campus, our Laboratory for Civic Engagement is encouraging everyone to get involved by answering the question, “Where on Earth is your favorite outdoor destination?” via Twitter. Be sure to use the hashtag #PSUEarthDay in your tweet when answering. All tweets will be gathered at the end of the day and posted on the Laboratory’s Facebook and Twitter pages to find out some of Penn State Brandywine’s favorite destinations!

If you’re interested in volunteering for the day, check out the EPA website to find exciting new options in your local area! Here is the link: http://www.epa.gov/earthday/take-action.html.

Contributed by Labanya Mookerjee, Fair Trade Intern

The Justice Conference & Social Responsibility

On February 23rd, I attended the 2013 Justice Conference in Philadelphia, where I had the privilege of listening to a large variety of speakers, ranging from the CEO of World Relief to the leader of social innovation at Twitter.

The diversity in subject matter and the enthusiastic audience made the conference a terrific success, rekindling the embers of inspiration and passion among all of us.

Today, we are so much bombarded with callings for “justice” and “activism” that we have become somewhat numb to the serious reasons behind them.

As Gary Haugen, CEO of the International Justice Mission stated, “As we are constantly ambushed with stories of suffering, they begin to dull at our ears and the sense of urgency dissipates….But, to those suffering, the realities are immediate, never fading.”

I have recounted some of the highlights of the conference in an attempt to revitalize that sense of urgency for justice that these world leaders tried to foster within us.

Here are the links to the conference summaries:

>Running the Justice Marathon: Close-Up on Eugene Cho of One Day’s Wages

>Stephan Bauman, CEO of World Relief, Talks Human Trafficking and Immigration Policy

>Twitter’s Claire Diaz-Ortiz Discusses Using Social Media for Good

>Half the Sky’s Sheryl WuDunn at the Justice Conference

Also, if you are interested in listening to any of the main speakers from the event, check out the conference videos posted on the Justice website: http://thejusticeconference.com/videos2013.html.

Contributed by Labanya Mookerjee, Fair Trade Intern

Looking for Fair Trade-themed art from PSU Brandywine students

Calling all Art Enthusiasts! The Penn State Brandywine Fair Trade TrailBlazers are now collecting artwork from any student for the 2013 “Spring into Art” Exhibition to be held by the Media Arts Council in early May! The exhibit will feature artwork created by students from The Walden School, Penncrest High School, and Penn State Brandywine.  Please consider submitting any original piece of artwork that reflects on what Fair Trade means to you. This is a great opportunity to get involved in the community and contribute to a meaningful cause. The deadline for submissions is on Friday, April 26th. If you are interested and would like more details, please contact Labanya Mookerjee at labanya@psu.edu. Thank you!

ArtEdit Flyer Media-page-001

Mid-Atlantic Fair Trade Student Leadership Training

It all started with an idea for an event… and then, making the event happen!

Join Fair Trade Colleges & Universities and our host Penn State Brandywine for the Mid-Atlantic Fair Trade Student Training! The training session will focus on helping students, faculty, administration and others organize their campaigns in order to become the next Fair Trade College or University.

Sharpen your tools and skills, learn what others are doing on campus to promote Fair Trade and get to know the network of students, faculty and staff across the region who are working on Fair Trade College & University campaigns!

Guiding the training will be:

Dr. Laura Guertin – Founder of the Fair Trade Trailblazers and professor at Penn State Brandywine, the first Fair Trade University in PA and 8th in the nation.

Sarah DeMartino –  National Steering Committee Member for Fair Trade Colleges & Universities, and student leader of Fair Trade Penn State at Penn State University Main Campus. Sarah also served on the Trailblazers steering committee before transferring to PSU-Main Campus.

Billy Linstead Goldsmith – National Coordinator of Fair Trade Campaigns

Sarah DeMartino (left, Penn State University Park) and Aimee Ralph (Penn State Brandywine) as the "welcome bananas" for today's events!

Sarah DeMartino (left, Penn State University Park) and Aimee Ralph (Penn State Brandywine) as the “welcome bananas” for today’s event!

So on a sunny-yet-windy day (with La Colombe Fair Trade coffee to warm us up from Seven Stones Cafe in Media!), students and faculty from Penn State Brandywine, Penn State University Park, Saint Joseph’s University, Cabrini College, and Drexel University gathered at the Brandywine campus to spend time discussing individual campus campaigns for Fair Trade University status.  The group discussed a range of topics from successes and challenges to having events on campus, to renewing leadership, and engaging the faculty, staff, food providers, bookstore managers, and everyone else on campus in creating a sustainable effort and program for Fair Trade.

A range of Fair Trade-themed events have been taking place at our schools.  Drexel and Penn State University Park have shown Fair Trade movies.  Saint Joe’s held a tasting event with chocolate (Kopali), tea (Runa), and soda (Maine Root).  Cabrini College held a Fair Trade Catholic College Philly gathering with speakers from Philly Fair Trade Coffee and Ten Thousand Villages.  Penn State Brandywine shared the success of our Fair Trade Clothesline Art Sale.  All of us want to increase the opportunities for students to take trips that incorporate Fair Trade and to purchase (or at least taste) Fair Trade food items – to quote Billy, we want to “taste the equity!”

The day ended with everyone thinking about how to prepare for the fall semester.  Yes, even though the spring semester hasn’t ended yet, it is important for all of us to think about how to keep the momentum of our efforts continuing through the summer and to start the fall semester strong with recruiting efforts.  At least in southeast PA, we hope to get students/faculty together from our neighboring colleges for one or two Fair Trade meetings to continue today’s conversations.  Anyone up for some Ben & Jerry’s Fair Trade ice cream this summer?  😉

— Contributed by Dr. Laura Guertin

Penn State Brandywine Hosts Mid-Atlantic Fair Trade Student Leadership Training

Today is the day that Penn State Brandywine is hosting college students from across the region for the Mid-Atlantic Fair Trade Student Leadership Training! Our own Dr. Laura Guertin and founding Fair Trade TrailBlazer Sarah DeMartino are leading the event, along with Billy Linstead-Goldsmith (national coordinator of Fair Trade Campaigns). Keep an eye out for our summaries of the day!

Also, keep updated on the latest news by following us on Twitter (@PSUBW_FairTrade) and by liking us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/psubwfairtrade)!