Protecting the Environment

Fair Trade is not just about earning a higher price for the harvest, it's about learning techniques for sustainable agriculture that help protect the environment and make the world a better place for future generations. To become Fair Trade Certified, farms must adhere to a strict set of environmental standards, including but not limited to: no use of GMO's, minimal and safe use of chemicals, elimination of slash and burn techniques and responsible disposal of waste and water runoff. These standards not only ensure sustainable production practices, but also worker health and safety.

The Fair Trade Certified™ label requires use of practices that promote soil conservation, water conservation, reforestation, species diversity, and environmental education. The standards also promote organic practices by prohibiting genetically modified organisms and certain agrochemicals. The following guidelines have been established by the Fair Trade Labeling Organization (FLO) and its domestic body, Transfair USA, for use by producers. All farmer cooperatives that produce Fair Trade Certified™ products have designed and implemented an internal cooperative plan for monitoring of these standards.

Land and Soil

  • A plan should be developed to ensure that the current and projected use of land is sustainable from an ecological, social, and economic perspective.
  • Records are maintained that include land usage, agricultural diversity, crop rotation, and water usage.
  • Producers must adopt basic principles to prevent erosion and enhance fertility, such as tillage, irrigation and crop rotation, with a system of monitoring and evaluating compliance.
  • Intercropping, the practice of planting a variety of crops in one area, is encouraged.  Cultivation and harvesting should be done in a manner that maintains diversity of the species.
  • Fire is only used to clear or prepare land when it is the preferred ecological option.


  • Buffer zones are maintained as required to protect water bodies, watershed recharge areas, virgin forests, and/or other legally protected areas and to protect agricultural plots from potentially polluting sources such as roads.
  • Producers must use irrigation techniques to minimize water consumption like drip irrigation or water application direct to the root zone.


  • New planting in virgin forests is prohibited.
  • Cultivated areas within the farm should be regenerated with natural flora and fauna to promote agricultural diversification.
  • Producers cannot gather material from protected areas, and material gathered from wild, uncultivated areas must be done sustainability, ensuring long-term viability of native species.

Organic Conversion

  • Producers must present a plan for converting farming practices to follow more organic standards.
  • The recycling of resources in terms of composting, mulching, and other crop residue reuse must be practiced whenever possible and in the most sustainable ways.
  • Organic waste that is contaminated with chemicals is disposed of safely and away from other crops, water, and livestock.


  • Agrochemicals on the FLO Prohibited List may not be used, sold, handled, or distributed by the producer organization.
  • Producers must safely use, store, and dispose of all agrochemicals and their containers, and cannot air-spray agrochemicals over buffer zones, residential areas, rivers, and other significant water sources.
  • Agrochemicals are used only when absolutely necessary, and producer organizations must continuously work to reduce their use and toxicity level.
  • A written record is kept of all agrochemicals purchased, used, and disposed of.
  • The use of permitted herbicides must be accompanied by written evidence showing that there is no available alternative treatment, as well as a plan to reduce or eliminate their use in the future as much as possible.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

  • Producers cannot grow GMOs, or use products derived from GMOs in primary production or processing.
  • Producers must monitor possible GMO usage by neighbors, and take additional precautions to protect their crops or seeds from contamination.

Click below ... to watch YouTube video 'Protecting The Environment Fair Trade USA. (2.02min).