Since 1997, Level Ground Trading has paid producers in developing countries fair trade premiums to benefit impoverished communities.
The Level Ground Trading company has a sparsely 30 employees, but its effects are felt worldwide. Based out of Victoria, British Columbia, Level Ground is not only fair trade certified, but they identify as a mission-based company, claiming to build “a food system focused on sustainability and well-being”.
Level Ground trades with small coffee producers in developing nations such as Ethiopia, Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, Tanzania and the Congo Republic. They also trade vanilla from Uganda, tea from India, spices from Sri Lanka, and heirloom rice and coconut oil from the Philippines.
Since their start in 1997, Level Ground’s offices and processing facilities have been 100% zero waste. Annually, the company composts more than 20,000 pounds of organic matter and reclaims almost 24,000 used product bags. The reclaimed bags are sewn into tote bags by contracted refugee immigrants. All product packages are also entirely biodegradable and compostable. Level Ground even pays their employees not to drive— saving an estimated 52,000km (32311 miles) every year.
Fair trade is an ethical model and social movement worldwide, defined by fair prices being paid to goods producers in developing countries— whereas usually large capitalist companies contract producers and pay them a pittance, reserving major markup premiums for themselves. Fair trade promotes sustainable farming practices, transparency and mutual respect.
Level Ground explains, “Fair Trade premiums are directed to different projects based on the needs of the farmers; healthcare benefits, school scholarships, agricultural technical training, co-op projects etc.” For example, Fair trade premiums now support 28 schools and provide more than 200 educational scholarships annually to kids and teenagers in the Columbian region were Level Ground first began purchasing coffee.
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