Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Recent Graduates Hope for Fair-Trade Alma Mater

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Recent Graduates Hope for Fair-Trade Alma Mater

Article excerpt

TEANECK - Three months ago, Sarah Fisher had a general idea of what fair trade meant.

But, after she and classmate Ben Manahan spent about three weeks going store to store compiling a list of township businesses selling fair-trade products and what they are as part of a senior-year service project, the recent Teaneck High School graduates want to do more.

Fisher and Manahan, both 18, are asking the school district to work toward attaining fair trade status, meaning, when practicable, the district would make an effort to purchase products made or grown under humane conditions that take into account the producers and the effects on the environment.

Fair trade generally refers to fair compensation for workers, safe and healthy working conditions, and practices that are environmentally sustainable.

To achieve fair-trade status, the school must create a fair- trade committee, make fair-trade products available at school facilities, use fair-trade products at meetings and in administrative offices, engage in awareness and education about free trade, and pass a resolution enshrining those principles, according to Fair Trade Towns USA.

Fisher, the daughter of school board member Margot Fisher, made her pitch to the board at Wednesday's meeting, telling board members that if they committed to attaining fair-trade status, students will learn about the conditions under which the products they consume are made, and they will become globally conscious citizens.

She asked them to be at the forefront of a movement and become the first district in the state and one of five high schools in the country to receive fair-trade status.

"Although supporting fair trade may seem like a small, symbolic gesture, the more companies and organizations that commit to fair trade, the greater the impact will be in terms of improving the conditions for workers all over the world, because business will respond to pressure from their customers to do the right thing," said Fisher, who plans to attend Clark University in Massachusetts in the fall. …

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