What’s the Afterlife of the Waste from the Festive Season?

Have you ever considered the fate of the excessive waste generated during festivities? 

What’s the afterlife of all that glitter, plastic wrap, or single-use decorations? The reality is that there might be no afterlife for such products; they might stay on Earth forever.

For decades, higher-income nations have been disposing of their waste in lower-income nations, a practice known as waste colonialism. According to Stanford University’s Waste Reduction Program, there is a rise of over 25% in household waste from the festive seasons, which means that when a country lacks an organised waste management system, this festive waste (such as glitter and plastic from your celebrations) might be shipped, quite literally, to the backyards of communities around the globe. This issue continues to inflict serious negative effects on citizens, communities, and their day-to-day environment. 

Since these statistics demand our attention, urging us to rethink our habits and pave the way for a more responsible celebration, this holiday season we are advocating for change. We want to inspire citizens to redefine celebration, forging a new definition that doesn’t compromise the well-being of other individuals and our planet. 

Photo credit: Plastics for Change

One of the main ways we can stand for change is by supporting the global community of Fair Trade Enterprises. By buying into business models that fight for a new economy, we as citizens are able to transform this wasteful mindset of conventional businesses and also stand as a voice against the silent crisis of irresponsible packaging, waste or disposal.

Fair Trade Enterprises do business the right way. Some ways in which they contribute to the crisis is by honouring resources instead of exploiting them, often producing with sustainable (or biodegradable) materials, being conscious about their processes, ensuring fair wages for all its workers, prioritise partnerships with local farmers and artisans, offer a safe workplace and also provide detailed information about the origin of their products. By making Fair Trade Enterprises our default, we are making a positive impact, not only once during the holiday season, but also every day.

This December, let’s not turn a blind eye to the aftermath of our festivities, there are numerous proactive measures we can adopt for a more sustainable approach. We’ll outline these steps to inspire positive action, encouraging you to contribute to the well-being of our planet:

→  Buy experiences, not objects. Opt for gathering stories and memories which are often more rewarding over the long term.

→ Gift Fair Trade Products! If the option above is not as doable for you, you can find a list of Enterprises that prioritise people and planet over maximising profits at WFTO.com/members and find gifts that are Fair Trade Verified.

→ Give a personal twist to your Fair Trade gifts. For example, if you buy a terracotta plant pot, personalise it by painting it yourself. That is a gift full of meaning as you made it special and unique! 

→When purchasing online, strive to support businesses that are climate-neutral or use shipping materials that are plastic-free, recyclable, and/or biodegradable.

→ Buy them a gift card instead! So they have all the freedom of choosing exactly what they want, and you will be reassured that it won’t gather dust on the shelves. 

→ Make your own presents! Handmade presents are always the most meaningful, whether you have a giftable passion or simply write and decorate a thoughtful card.

→ When preparing a dinner gathering, opt for reusable dinnerware. Use your plates, cups, and utensils instead of disposable, plastic ones, or buy lasting ones from a WFTO-Guaranteed member

→ Buy your loved ones’ pre-loved gifts. Secondhand or vintage shops are full of gems and decorative items you can gift them

As we immerse ourselves in the festive season, let’s ensure our values align with our actions, and always prioritise quality over quantity. By making conscious choices, we can guarantee that our celebrations are filled with warmth, kindness, and a commitment to a more sustainable future. Wishing you all a season of joy and conscious festivities!

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WFTO Membership & Associate Types

  • Fair Trade Organisations (FTO)

    All trading members of WFTO. This includes all organisations that have more than half of their income and/or more than €100,000 in income from trade.

  • Fair Trade Support Organisations (FTSO)

    An organisation whose primary mission is to support Fair Trade and/or provide services to organisations that are or want to become Fair Trade Organisations.

  • Fair Trade Networks (FTN)

    An organisation which is an association of organisations committed to Fair Trade.

  • Individual Associates (IA)

    Individual Associates are supporters of the Fair Trade movement with limited rights. The WFTO Guarantee System does not apply to them.

  • Associate Organisations (AO)

    Associate Organisations align with WFTO’s values but after their application. They do not undergo monitoring and also have limited rights.

WFTO Guarantee System Monitoring Statuses

  • Candidates

    Candidates have been conditionally approved for membership but have not completed their first monitoring cycle under the WFTO Guarantee System. They have limited rights within WFTO. They may not use the WFTO Member Mark and Product Label or claim that they are monitored by WFTO.

  • Guaranteed Members

    Guaranteed members have met the WFTO Membership requirements and are monitored under the WFTO Guarantee System.

  • Member

    Organisations that have no or little income from trade go through a reduced version of the WFTO Guarantee System that does not include criteria related to trade. These organisations may use the WFTO Member Mark but cannot use the Product Label for any products they may be trading to support their mission. This status only applies to Fair Trade Networks (FTN) and Support Organisations (FTSO).

  • Renewal in Progress

    Members who are in the process of renewing their guaranteed status and are overdue on some requirements retain full rights while they work to meet the demands of the Guarantee System on an administrative or compliance level.

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WFTO welcomes applications from established Fair Trade Organisations as well as organisations that support Fair Trade. Individuals in their capacity as researchers, writers, consultants and specialists in their field who can contribute solid skills, knowledge and expertise to WFTO and members are also welcome.

Add Your Heading Text Initial requirements for organisations:

  • Compliance with the WFTO 10 Principles of Fair Trade. Please have a look at the WFTO Fair Trade Standard for more specific information on compliance with these principles.

  • All applicant organisations must already be duly registered (as a legal entity) and active for at least one year.

Who can apply?

  • Fair Trade Organisations (FTO)

    All companies, partnerships, co-partnerships and other legal bodies – as determined by the legal provisions of the country of the member concerned – that are directly engaged in Fair Trade. They may be producers or northern or southern based trading FTOs for whom Fair Trade is the main activity. To qualify for FTO membership, income from sales (turnover) must account for 50% or more of the total income. Applications for FTO membership cannot be accepted from organisations with no prior sales history.

  • Fair Trade Networks (FTN)

    Legal entities whose primary function is to serve as national or international associations of Fair Trade producers and/or Fair Trade Organisations.

  • Fair Trade Support Organisations (FTSO)

    Fair Trade Organisations where trading is not the main activity (proportion of trade is less than 50% of total income). These organisations are engaged in Fair Trade indirectly, through activities that promote and support Fair Trade. These activities can include business counselling, finance, advocacy or networking.

  • Associate Organisations

    This is a special category for national or international organisations that are interested in supporting and promoting Fair Trade, including donor organisations. Organisations that do not meet the one-year legal existence requirement also fit in this group.

  • Individual Associates

    Individual researchers, writers, consultants and specialists in their field that can support WFTO. WFTO expects its individual associates to be active Fair Trade supporters whose experience and expertise in their own particular field can be of practical benefit to WFTO's members. To apply, please submit a curriculum vitae.

    While FTO, FTN and FTSO are entitled to full WFTO membership, organizational and individual associates have only limited rights.

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The WFTO Product Label is more than just a Fair Trade symbol. It signifies not only that the practices across the supply chain are checked against the WFTO Fair Trade Standard, but it also represents support to the battle against poverty and inequality. Products carrying the WFTO Label are made and traded by Guaranteed Fair Trade Organisations dedicated to the sustainable Fair Trade economy. Every purchase of products with the WFTO Label supports small producers and their communities.

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