A growing grassroots movement is pushing the Houston city council to become the first Fair Trade city in Texas.

Fair Trade is a market-based approach to addressing poverty, slavery, child labor, sweatshops, and many other common human rights abuses associated with overseas production of consumer goods. Fair Trade certification pays a higher price to producers and demands higher labor and environmental standards in production.

The campaign, launched by Houstonian Kendra Penry, calls on the city to follow in the footsteps of Boston and Chicago and purchase Fair Trade certified goods when available, ensure ongoing education, media exposure and commitment to Fair Trade, and encourage the community to use, sell or provide Fair Trade products whenever possible.

“This is an opportunity for Houston to be a worldwide leader in the effort to promote Fair Trade,” said petition author Kendra Penry, Director of Programs at Houston Rescue and Restore Coalition. “The city council has the chance to say that we in Houston will not tolerate slavery of any kind, either within our borders or in the products we use.”

Other city councils that have recently made the commitment to Fair Trade include Chicago, Boston, Milwaukee, and Norman, Oklahoma. There is also an ongoing Fair Trade campaign in Austin.

Penry has gathered hundreds of signatures on her petition, and has offered to work with the Houston City Council to implement the new Fair Trade standards.

“What Kendra and this growing grassroots alliance of Houstonian activists have already accomplished is remarkable,” said Amanda Kloer, Director of Organizing for Change.org, the world’s fastest-growing social action platform. “Local commitment to Fair Trade is a critical tool to fighting poverty and human rights abuses all over the world, and we are honored to provide a platform for such an inspiring campaign.”

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