Pictures of a bag of health sugar and certified organic food against a bright colorful tie-dyed background

What to buy

Buy Fair Trade Items

The term “Fair Trade” may conjure up a variety of images in the minds of consumers today: “hipsters” sipping on special coffee, higher priced sections of produce at the grocery store, all-hemp clothing and handbags, or an overall vision of a “natural” lifestyle. Many of us, however, don’t know what the Fair Trade industry truly consists of. There is more to this craze than meets the eye. In a nutshell, Fair Trade is all about ethical business practices and individual consumers using their purchasing power to decide what kind of world we live in.

What is Fair Trade?

Concisely explained on non-profit Fair Trade USA’s website, this industry practices “rigorous social, environmental and economic standards (that) work to promote safe, healthy working conditions, protect the environment, enable transparency and empower communities to build strong, thriving businesses” (

Farmers, artisans and a whole slew of other working persons around the world are unfortunately all too easily taken advantage of through conventional business platforms. Not to mention, lack of environmental regulations make it simple for many businesses to cut costs by using practices that are harmful to our planet. The Fair Trade industry seeks to eradicate these harmful practices and promote transparency throughout all aspects of business.

Look for the label

There are several different forms/systems of certification for fair trade products, including the Fair Trade Federation, Fair Trade USA, Fairtrade America, Alta Gracia, Fair for Life and more. While each certification has its own unique differences, anything with a fair trade label passes the “ethics test” when it comes to how it was made and distributed, from start to finish. 

The most popular fair trade items on the market include coffee, chocolate, bananas, sugar, flowers, tea, wine, cotton and beauty products. You can also find an array of knick-knacks, artwork, leather goods and things of the sort. Many Fair Trade products, including clothing, are handmade all across the globe. The mainstream clothing industry is notorious for poor labor and/or environmental standards, while Fair Trade clothing boasts workplace safety, environmental conservation, female empowerment and many more benefits.

While sometimes the price of fair trade products is higher than its alternative, the quality is also much higher because of the extensive regulations the products have to pass in order to attain the certification. If you’re skeptical, look for a fair trade label next time you shop and see for yourself.

The Campaign

Columbus, in particular, has a special role in integrating the fair trade lifestyle into mainstream consumerism. That’s right, our city is in the process of becoming an official “Fair Trade Town.” In order to achieve that status, a town must form a committee, work with 34 retailers who sell fair trade products, 34 community organizations who sell or serve fair trade products, spread awareness and promote the campaign through the media, and lastly engage the local government and pass a Fair Trade resolution.

The campaign is well underway, and you can check out the retailers and community organizations involved or just check up on the status of the campaign yourself on the campaign’s website (

We also advocate and educate through social media channels for any interested readers (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook). Follow along with the campaign to learn all about the Fair Trade industry, discover where you can find local Fair Trade products that meet your needs and spread the Fair Trade love yourself.

Bethie Woodall

@FairTradeColumbus – Instagram

@FairTradeCbus – Twitter

What NOT to buy

Boycott Hewlett Packard (HP) Products

Hewlett Packard (HP) is profiting from the oppression and suffering of the Palestinian people. HP products and services play a significant role in Israel’s military occupation of Palestinian territory, a regime of separation and colonization.

HP’s Basel system, a biometric access control system, is used at military checkpoints throughout the West Bank to control and restrict movement, and is a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

HP also provides the unethical ID/permit system by which Israel racially profiles and segregates Palestinians.

HP maintains technology for the Israeli Navy, which enforces the devastating siege of Gaza. The blockade has created a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions for two million imprisoned Gazans. 

Two of HP’s tech service providers are Matrix and Tact Testware, both operating in Modi’in Illit, the largest Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank. One of HP’s major distributors also operates in Modi’in Illit. The settlements are built on stolen land and are the foundation of Israel’s colonization of the West Bank. 

HP CEO Carly Fiorina donated servers to the Bush National Security Agency (NSA) that formed the basis of its illegal domestic surveillance (“warrantless wiretapping”) program.

HP is a major player in the US prison-industrial complex, providing essential infrastructure for state and private prison systems that form the basis of a race-based caste system.

HP developed technology used by the Obama Administration’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to track, raid, detain and deport millions of immigrant families, on a scale unprecedented in US history.

HP sits alongside war profiteer peers such as Raytheon, Boeing and Lockheed Martin as a top-20 US “defense” and “homeland security” contractor. 

Jewish Voice for Peace, Central Ohio has an HP Boycott subcommittee. If you would like to get involved, please send an email to JVP members are inspired by Jewish tradition to work together for peace, social justice, equality, human rights, respect for international law and a U.S. foreign policy based on these ideals. All are welcome.

Take the pledge:  We call on Hewlett Packard companies – including HP Inc, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and all spin-offs – to end all participation in the brutal oppression of the Palestinian people and other targeted communities worldwide. We pledge not to purchase products – including printers, computers and ink – from complicit HP companies and we call on retailers, universities, schools, faith communities, investment funds, municipalities, governments, trade unions and other institutions to boycott and divest from HP companies until they cancel all contracts that supply Israel with technology, equipment and information used in its ongoing violations of Palestinian rights and international law. 

Sign the international pledge to boycott HP here:

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