The Social Movement that Matters

Skutt Catholic's Fair Trade Club works to educate about equality in the business world

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The Social Movement that Matters

Hannah Klemme, Entertainment Editor

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“Made in ___.” The familiar sticker is placed on almost every mass produced product in America. Regardless of its meaning, it is peeled, disposed, and forgotten by the multitude of consumers in our country. It’s very rare for people to think about where their everyday materials come from, especially in this materialistic world we indulge ourselves in. Consumerism is growing, and so is the ignorance of what is being consumed. Taking the time to be aware of where our products come from is an essential part in being fair with what we buy. The amount of work that goes into our everyday items should not be left unnoticed and the people that do this work should not be left unheard.

When it comes to high school jobs, it’s fair to say nothing is too labor intensive. Maybe you spend your time serving food, stacking groceries, or selling retail. Most of the products we encounter during the course of our job have already had all the hard work put into them. Whether it be a canned good or a woven creation, there are people that slave away in harsh conditions to put those products into their final state. These marginalized people are usually struggling to keep their families fed and their unappreciated jobs they do nothing with assist them in this hindrance.

This is where Fair Trade comes into play. A large majority of our student body is familiar with this program but not many take the time to participate in its goodness. Fair Trade enables laborers in developing countries to eradicate the middle man and gain a well-deserved profit for their products. From pencils to jewelry to oranges and bananas, there is an endless list of Fair Trade products available to all consumers. These items are slightly on the pricier side of the spectrum but there is a reason for that: it is fair. Large corporations continue to eliminate accreditation given to those who put in long hours for their products and swindle the money that those people rightfully deserve.

Skutt Catholic is taking strides toward making this community educated about Fair Trade and the it’s benefits. The Fair Trade Club is currently making efforts to deem Skutt Catholic as the first Fair Trade school in Nebraska. Mrs. Hoye advises this club and is an advocates the positivity behind the program. She recognizes the difficulties in becoming a Fair Trade school but also sees the feasible outcome of the whole process. “It all depends which governing body you use for your accreditation or your approval. We began our process with fair trade.org and they set up their own criteria and they basically have four things that they request,” says Hoye.

These four things are nothing that Skutt Catholic can’t handle: two classes that address the subject of fair trade and two permanent fixtures of fair trade items available to students and faculty. We can easily check off the first two items as our World Studies classes and Economy program cover the subject of fair trade in their curriculum. The second set of criteria becomes a little dicey when trying to work it into our everyday school environment. “We have fair trade coffee available to the faculty on Wednesdays and fair trade coffee in the concession stands for all of our sporting events. We need one more item, hopefully an accessible item that will be regularly available to the student body, which is proving to be quite difficult actually. Fair trade items are not friendly vending items,” explains Hoye.

Although we’re about halfway to fulfilling the requirements of a Fair Trade school, there’s a much more deep cutting side to the situation. Awareness is a huge factor in being a successful Fair Trade school. “I would say most of the obstacles have to do with educating vendors. Even just having a conversation with the company that supplies the items for our vending machines, they did not know what fair trade was and did not know how to source fair trade items. They are just honestly not interested. So that has been a very difficult thing and although it’s not really impacting us, a lot of people back away from fair trade products because they’re a little bit more expensive and that’s simply because it’s fair. A lot of people are interested in it as a social justice item but not really willing to support it with their money,” says Hoye.

The ease of claiming to support an idea rather than acting on it is one of humanity’s greatest downfalls.Talking about equality has much less of an effect than taking actions to promote the common good. Mrs. Hoye carried on to explain the long lasting effects this could have for our school, and even further, our world. “I think the best thing is that it’s a way that we can live out our mission as Catholics to bring justice to society and to be practicing it not just simply talking about it but to live it and incorporate in our lives and encourage other people to do so. It really is one of the few economic systems that really validate the dignity of all the people that go into making a product and putting it forth in any kind of economy but it gives dignity to the person who does mostly the manual labor. The woodcarver, the person who is literally out in the fields deserves a fair share of the final profit of that item. It’s a social justice issue.”

A $7.25 hourly wage can be far from satisfying. Almost every working high school student is affiliated with this ever-so-terrible minimum wage. But is it really all that bad? In comparison to what people in developing countries make, we are extremely favored with this salary. Our world has a far stretch to reach total equality all around, but we can work to end this discrimination with the money out of our own pockets.