About IRTF Fair Trade
IRTF works towards justice and equity in the distribution, access to, and participation in the production and consumption of the world’s resources for the people of Central America and Colombia. IRTF examines the corporate-dominated globalization of the economy through the lens of people in Central America and Colombia and how their reality is linked to ours in NE Ohio. IRTF challenges the dominant economic model that results in exploitation both at home and abroad. IRTF offers an alternative through Fair Trade.
Fair trade is a trade model that sets a series of standards to ensure fair wages and human dignity for producers, community investment, environmental sustainability, and more. IRTF promotes Fair Trade as an alternative trade model to the conventional free market system of trade that currently dominates our world and further divides us into “haves” and “have nots.”
At outreach tables throughout the year, IRTF sells fair trade items—raising tens of thousands of dollars—so that artisans and farmers in Latin America can earn a living wage. Fair trade is an important of IRTF’s human rights mission: to call together people in NE Ohio to walk in solidarity with oppressed peoples of Central America and Colombia to achieve peace, justice, human rights and systemic transformation through nonviolence.
IRTF’s origins and mission to promote economic justice
On December 2, 1980, two members of the Cleveland Catholic Mission Team in El Salvador were tragically murdered. The martyrs: Jean Donovan, a lay woman from St Luke’s Parish in Lakewood, and Sister Dorothy Kazel, an Ursuline sister who had taught at Beaumont School in Cleveland Heights. They were killed alongside Maryknoll Sisters Ita Ford and Maura Clarke.
The InterReligious Task Force on Central America (IRTF) was formed so that we here in northeast Ohio might live out their legacy—standing in solidarity with oppressed peoples as they struggle for peace and justice.
Promoting economic justice through fair trade is an important part of IRTF’s human rights mission. IRTF brought Equal Exchange, the first fair trade coffee company in the US, to Cleveland in the mid-1990s. Many congregations started selling and serving Equal Exchange coffee as an act of justice and solidarity. Heinen’s became the first grocery chain in the US to sell Equal Exchange in all its stores.Today, IRTF, an interfaith social justice organization, continues as a leader in the NE Ohio fair trade movement.
IRTF depends on the volunteer help of fair trade enthusiasts to raise vital income for farmers and artisans in the Global South.
If you can help us out for a couple of hours at any of these upcoming fair trade tables, please send a message to email@example.com or call us at (216) 961 0003. Thank you.
IRTF FAIR TRADE SCHEDULE
[Note: The school sales are not open to the general public; they are designed for students, parents, faculty, and staff.]
WED, NOV 29
St Edward High School
THU, NOV 30
St Joseph Academy High School
11am-2pm and 5-8pm
FRI, DEC 1
Walsh Jesuit High School
Cuyahoga Falls, OH
10am-1pm and 6-9pm
SAT, DEC 2
Church of the Saviour
Cleveland Heights, OH
SAT&SUN, DEC 2&3
St Patrick Church
Near West Side (Cleveland)
TUE&WED, DEC 5&6
Magnificat High School
Rocky River, OH
11am-1pm each day
FRI, DEC 8
Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin High School
SUN, DEC 10
Community of St Peter
SAT, DEC 16
IRTF Open House
Near West Side (Cleveland)
Other Ethical Shopping and Fair Trade Opportunities
Whether or not you’re able to shop in-person with IRTF, please check out these other holiday shopping options that promote the solidarity economy.
-Holiday Shopping Guide from the Fair Trade Federation.
-Fair trade stores in Ohio, including in Cleveland (Revy, One World Shop), Akron (The Market Path, Global Threads Boutique, Oberlin (INTO), Columbus (Global Gifts, World Peaces, and Global Gallery), Kidron (World Crafts) and Northwest Ohio (Ten Thousand Villages in Bluffton and Archbold)
-Ethically made apparel from The Collection, a collaboration of textile manufacturers in North Carolina. When you shop from Collection, you are ensuring that the folks who manufacture the line of ethically made t-shirts, socks and other apparel have quality jobs with voice, agency, and equity. They have developed methods and materials to make products that can last a lifetime. With a goal of zero waste, they cut waste at every step of the manufacturing process. Ignatian Solidarity Network .
-Wrap Up Homelessness: Get your issue of the NEO Coalition for the Homeless newspaper featuring sheets of gift wrapping paper designed by folks with lived experience of homelessness. Available at West Side Market, Upcycle Parts, Mac’s Backs, and 5 Points Coffee & Tea. https://www.neoch.org/wrapuphomelessness
-Ohio Immigrant Alliance has published its first-ever holiday gift guide! It's a curated list of ethical, impactful, and magical gifts. From fair trade to faux eyelashes, there's something for everyone on your list. Download last year’s gift guide.
IRTF Fair Trade items
- The items that IRTF sells are handcrafted by worker-owners of fair trade cooperatives in southern Mexico (Nahua people of Guerrero), Central America and Colombia
- Colombia (tagua jewelry, wire yarn animals)
- El Salvador (coconut shell jewelry, painted wood products, crocheted purses)
- Guatemala (beaded key chains, ornaments, earrings, headbands; wallets, handbags)
- Mexico (silver jewelry)
- Honduras (some of the earrings).
- The cooperatives are small businesses, worker-owned, mostly by women. They set their own hours and working conditions. Most importantly, they pay themselves a living wage (in the local context), but still live in poverty.
- Because they earn a living wage, their children don’t have to drop out of school to help support the family. So fair trade is also helping the next generation as well.
- By selling handmade crafts, we highlight the importance of fair trade as a just alternative to corporate-led globalization, which is shutting out small producers.
Price range of items
$4-10: small clay bobble-head animals, wire yarn animals, hacky sacks, finger puppets, beaded key chains, beaded holiday ornaments, friendship bracelets, snap leather bracelets, barrettes, wallets
$10-20: wallets, small purses, handbags, coconut shell earrings, silver earrings, silver bracelets, silver rings, novelty items
$20-30: wallets, purses, handbags, laptop covers
$30-40: purses, handbags, messenger bags
$40-50: large purses, messenger bags
Equal Exchange items
IRTF is a long-term partner of Equal Exchange, the first fair trade coffee company in the U.S. IRTF brought Equal Exchange to NE Ohio in the mid-1990s. Heinen’s became the first grocery chain to sell Equal Exchange in all its stores.
IRTF offers these Equal Exchange fair trade food products:
$4 chocolate bars
$7 dried fruit, hot cocoa mix, baking cocoa
$9-$11 coffee (regular, flavored, decaf)
$18 olive oil