How far do your students travel without ever leaving home?
Well, what sort of products do they rely on? From bowls of cereal, toothpaste, and sneakers, to smartphones, e-readers, and video game consoles, your students are a vital part of multiple global trading networks.
Challenge your students to consider the journey behind everyday products with our Interdependence and You activity. By researching the path of bananas, chocolate, or coffee, what can your students learn about our interconnected world? What social, economic, and environmental factors are at play to produce something as basic as sugar?
Sadly, many popular goods begin with child labor, extreme poverty, and environmentally destructive practices. Fair-trade standards aim to identify and promote goods produced using fair prices, sustainable farming practices, and safe working conditions. The movement is among a long history of efforts to influence business practices by empowering the consumer. Can your students make connections between the fair-trade movement and other historic movements, such as the spread of organized labor in the United States?
Ask your class to consider how much they value certain goods. Could they live without chocolate? (A cruel fate, if you ask me!) But if the dessert mainstay is so essential, why do many cocoa farmers receive less than $2 a day?
To spread the word about exploitation in the chocolate industry, your students don’t have to bum out their friends (or their taste buds). This Halloween, they can try “reverse trick-or-treating”—going door-to-door to pass out fair-trade chocolate with educational inserts.
Nat Geo: Interdependence and You
Nat Geo: The Numbers Behind Child Labor
Nat Geo: Geography of a Pencil
Nat Geo: The Trading Game
Fairtrade America: Fair Trade Month
World Watch Institute: “Reverse Trick-or-Treaters” Deliver Fair Trade Chocolate