The K-StateStudent Union was packed with shoppers browsing the Fair Trade Marketplace on Wednesday. The tables buried under brightly colored fabrics, artifacts and other products. People moved slowly from table to table, examining the wares and listening to volunteers tell the stories behind them.
The Marketplace is part of Fair Trade Week at K-State.
The wide variety of products included clothing, hand bags, ornaments, toys, neckties, photo frames, carved wooden jewelry boxes, coffee and more. Everything was from Fair Trade companies such as Two Hands Workshop, Equal Exchange and local vendors like Rockstar and Rogers and People’s Grocery.
Several tables offered free items, such as stickers, magnets, and samples of chocolate.
Fair Trade ensures farmers and workers in Third World countries are paid a fair price for their products, which allows them to better sustain themselves.
Abbey Briscoe, junior in theater, purchased a bag of coffee and a stuffed toy giraffe. Briscoe said the toy was made by people with disabilities, which was one of the reasons she had decided to buy it.
“I think it’s a great way to help people who are in a situation that’s hard to overcome,” Briscoe said. “People should know about a great cause that helps people and makes them happy.”
Some of the more unusual items were made of recycled materials that would normally be considered garbage. There were metal wall ornaments made from recycled metal drums and thick, reusable plastic shopping bags made from sewn patches of recycled bags that once contained drinking water.
Isabel Troncoso, sophomore in fine arts and historian for the K-State Fair Trade Advocates, was one of the student volunteers at the Marketplace.
Troncoso’s mother is from Singapore, her father is from Chile, and she spent much of her life living in Indonesia. Troncoso said having lived in a Third World country made her want to get involved in Fair Trade.
“To really make a change, you have to do something about it,” Troncoso said.
Kait Snoddy, sophomore in fine arts and vice president of Fair Trade Advocates, said learning about Fair Trade helped her to realize “the power of the consumer to change what you buy.”
Snoddy said the Marketplace has been successful so far. Although they did not open until 10 a.m., she said people were already coming over as they were setting up tables at 7 a.m.
The Fair Trade Marketplace will be open today from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Union. Both cash and credit cards are accepted.
Fair Trade week will conclude on Sunday with the third annual Hunger Banquet, an event that raises awareness of world hunger. All of the food served at the banquet will be Fair Trade and local organically grown food.
Snoddy said they decided to make the banquet more interactive this year to help people learn. Each person at the banquet will be given a card with their “character” on it, and each of the roles reflects the actual proportion of classes in the world. 50 percent of the world population is considered lower class, 35 percent is middle class, and the remaining 15 percent is upper class.
“It’s really amazing to see what qualifies for upper and middle class,” said Snoddy.
One example that Snoddy said surprised her was the character of a woman in Jerusalem who sells postcards all day. She is considered “upper class” because she owns her own business.
The Hunger Banquet will be at the ECM church at 1021 Denison Avenue at 6 p.m. on Sunday. Questions about the banquet or Fair Trade should be directed to the Fair Trade Advocates at firstname.lastname@example.org