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Student Helps Greenwich Become a Fair Trade Town

Greenwich is officially the 1,000th Fair Trade Town in the world, thanks to the efforts of Carolyn Schnackenberg, a student at the Convent of the Sacred Heart.

“Nothing impacted me as much as the Fair Trade cause, and a lot of people don’t know about it,” said Schnackenberg. Fair Trade Towns USA is a market-based system that helps producers in developing countries create better trade conditions and promote sustainability for everyday products, such as coffee, cotton, chocolate and bananas.

On Saturday, Greenwich will be part of an international event to celebrate 1,000 Fair Trade Towns worldwide. First Selectman Peter Tesei passed an official resolution Wednesday to declare Greenwich’s Fair Trade status.

Schnackenberg, who will be a junior in the fall at the Convent of Sacred Heart, became interested in Fair Trade after doing a project for her American History class in eighth grade. “Everyone drinks a cup of coffee in the morning or eats chocolate during the day, but they don’t realize they are feeding into corporate greed,” said Schnackenberg. She said she was inspired to take action after reading about child slavery at cocoa plantations on the Ivory Coast of Africa. “I couldn’t believe there was child slavery in this modern world, and I wanted to do something about it.”

The Fair Trade Towns USA campaign raises consumer awareness, increases the availability of Fair Trade products and drives sales to help lift more than 1.2 million farming families out of poverty. The movement started in England in 2000 and spread across the United Kingdom and Europe.

As part of her work, Schnackenberg had to form a steering community representing different parts of the town. She then had to persuade 12 retailers to sell at least two fair trade products in Greenwich. She received confirmation from stores such as Whole Foods, Aux Delices, Poricelli’s Food Mart and Cos Cob Farms.

Schnackenberg also had to find 12 community organizations that provide at least two Fair Trade products in Greenwich. She received support from her school and from organizations such as the Greenwich Chamber of Commerce, YWCA Greenwich and the Round Hill Community Church.

The final steps were to get a resolution passed through town hall and receive media attention. “I wanted to make a difference and spread awareness,” said Schnackenberg, who teaches about Fair Trade at the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich. “Few know about the dangers of child trafficking and child slavery, and I wanted to let people know that Fair Trade is not just a cause, it’s real and it’s impacting this modern world.”

How aware of Fair Trade practices are you? Do you shop Fair Trade or use Fair Trade products?

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