Student group pushing fair trade options

Most of the espressos at Java City on campus are fair trade products. “It’s a pretty green place,” said Felicia Schmidt, who’s worked at Java City for eight years. The Student Government Association recently passed a fair trade declaration.

Katherine Wade

Jim Sears, assistant director of operations for the WKU Store, said he’s looking for fair trade options to add to the store after the Student Government Association passed a fair trade declaration last week.

Sears said he’s sending two buyers to a trade show in Houston next week who are going to be looking specifically for fair trade products.

Sears said that in the past, fair trade products available at the book store weren’t been very popular.

“They haven’t flown off the shelves,” he said. “But I think that was an education problem. Now that fair trade is being implemented on campus and people are becoming aware of it, I think the need will start appearing.”

Supporters of fair trade at WKU, such Morganfield senior Charlie Harris, are trying to make students aware of fair trade products available on campus.

“As a university, we should be conscious of our purchasing actions,” Harris said. “Fair trade is a product that ensures the ideals of furthering our mission and adding value to the WKU experience.”

The fair trade label ensures that farmers get a fair price for their products, which helps “farmers in developing countries build sustainable businesses that positively influence their communities,” according to

WKU’s fair trade campaign is run through the Americans for Informed Democracy student group.

Harris, one of the co-founders of WKU AID, said their main goal right now is to promote awareness of fair trade options on campus. They also wrote the declaration the SGA passed last week supporting WKU as a fair trade university.

There are already several fair trade options available on campus and around Bowling Green. Java City, Einstein Bros. and the Garrett Food Court all offer fair trade coffee. The Bate Shop has Divine Chocolate from Ghana and Adina Herbal Drinks with fair trade sugar.

Multiple attempts to reach Tim Colley, district manager for ARAMARK and the WKU Restaurant and Catering Group, about added fair trade dining options were unsuccessful this week.

As for Bowling Green, places such as Kroger, Starbucks, Target and Spencer’s Coffee House all have fair trade products, according to

Despite the more expensive nature of fair trade items, Sears said he sees them as a great opportunity for the bookstore.

 “If we can get a product in here that’s going to sell and that people will like, it’s an opportunity to appeal to a whole new clientele base,” he said.

Harris said because of the price difference, many students might choose not to purchase fair trade products. But he said the important thing is they have the choice.

“If we have it, at least it’s an option,” he said. “It’s not something they have to buy. We’re just hoping having it available will be an encouragement.”