fair trade vs buying local

Buying Fair trade vs. buying local

Written by: Diana Le

Shifting to more conscious consumption can at times be confusing with all of the different terms and labels that are used. In particular, there seems to be a lot of buzz around buying local vs. buying fair trade. What is the difference? Why are both impactful? In this article, we hope to provide some context as to what buying fair trade and local mean, and why they are both important aspects of sustainability.

What is Fairtrade

Fair trade is a broad system and set of values that aim to ensure that goods are produced with fair wages, fair working conditions and environmental sustainability in mind. 

There are several fair trade certifiers that you may have heard of including Fair for Life, Fairtrade, and Fair Trade Certified. You can find information about various certifiers you come across on their websites and learn more about their values and certification processes.


For example, a symbol that you may have come across while shopping is the FAIRTRADE mark (see below). Fairtrade International is the organization that licenses and owns the FAIRTRADE mark; this logo is then used to identify products that have met a set of internationally agreed-upon environmental, social, and economic criteria.


By purchasing Fairtrade products you are helping farmers earn a decent wage to provide for themselves and their families, supporting environmentally responsible production of goods, empowering women, providing children with educational opportunities and so much more! 

What is Buying Local

Buying local is exactly what you intuitively might think: Purchasing products made locally and supporting businesses owned by people in your community! There are many important reasons to support local when possible. Consuming from local businesses means that you are supporting local business ownership and jobs which then contributes to a thriving and connected local economy. Purchasing local products also reduces the impact on the environment. For example, purchasing locally sourced produce means that fruits and vegetables don’t have to travel too far to get to your kitchen resulting in a reduced carbon footprint. Further, many local businesses also carry fair trade products which allow consumers to support both local and international communities.

There is so much more to learn about both fair trade and buying local beyond the content presented in this article; however, hopefully, you now have a better understanding of the benefits and importance of each. By prioritizing either one when possible, you are making moves towards a more ethical and sustainable global community! 



  1. https://fairtradeedmonton.ca/what-is-fair-trade/
  2. https://www.fairtrade.net/about/what-is-fairtrade
  3. https://sustainableconnections.org/why-buy-local/
  4. https://www.mcgill.ca/foodservices/sustainability/green/local#:~:text=It%20benefits%20the%20local%20economy,safety%20standards%20in%20the%20world.

Written by: Diana Le

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