Fair Trade: An international trade arrangement in which the producers in developing nations are paid a fair price for their products, thus reducing poverty, unethical treatment of workers, and environmental degradation.
If I had unlimited resources, I would buy everything organic and fair trade. I hate the reality that Central American banana workers are being paid a pittance to work long days up to their elbows in pesticide residue processing my bananas, that most cocoa growers have never tasted chocolate, and that my $100 sneakers cost only four cents in labor and were probably made by a child.
Our artificially cheap consumer goods come with a high price.
But day-to-day, right here in my own home, It’s hard to take the price hike that comes with moving from non-organic to organic produce and from bargain shopping to fair trade. We have spent our whole lives with these artificially low prices, and sometimes even they’re too much for us. So how do we move from being part of the problem to part of the solution?
There are two ways. One of them will cost you more money, and one will save you money (And if you do both, it will reduce the burden of the expensive way). Are you ready?
- Buy fair trade and organic products as much as possible.
- Choose to buy less, and reduce, reuse, recycle.
That’s really simplistic, I know. But it’s a start. When you’re shopping, ask yourself if you really need another purse. Buy fair trade gifts. Shop second hand as a means of reducing the burden on both underpaid labor and our landfills.
This is a super brief intro to the topic of fair trade, but I think most people are familiar, and what I really want to do today is introduce you to some of my fair trade favorites.
1. Noonday Collection:
Noonday sells jewelry and accessories made by fair trade artisans around the world. Their products are beautiful, and each piece has a story. My personal favorites are my Callypso Earrings, made from sustainably harvested water buffalo horn, and the Tangled Beads Bracelet, which came from Ethiopia. Many of the pieces made by Noonday’s Ethiopian artisans are made from old artillery. The first time I held my bracelet in my hand, that reality hit me like a flood and I got choked up thinking about how something sad was being remade into something beautiful and providing economic opportunities at the same time. Noonday averages around $35 for a pair of earrings or a bracelet, and $50-ish for necklaces. Prices vary of course depending on the materials.
2. Endangered Species Chocolate:
I’m a bit of a chocolate snob. I worked in a department store for a few years, right near the candy counter. When they got samples or if there were broken pieces in a shipment, we were the grateful recipients of some serious goodies. And once I got used to Godiva, I lost my appetite for Hershey’s. Knowing that chocolate is one of the products known for unethical production, I have really cut back my consumption. When I do indulge, my favorite is Endangered Species Chocolate’s 72% cocoa natural dark chocolate. It’s smooth and flavorful, and available at my local grocery store.
3. Caribou Blend coffee:
When I started learning about the importance of fair trade, I went looking for two things: chocolate and coffee. I knew that those were areas notorious for unethical production. We were buying our favorite Caribou Blend at Costco. We have a Keurig, so I’m already overpaying for coffee, and I was afraid to ask! But I was pleasantly surprised to find that many Keurig K-cups were available in fair trade varieties, and excited to discover that my go-to coffee was already Rainforest Alliance certified (Rainforest Alliance means that both the workers and the environment are cared for during production).
4. Fair Trade Friday box from Mercy House, Kenya:
Subscription boxes are all the rage right now. For a fixed monthly fee you get a box of goodies to try – food, clothing, beauty, or accessories from different vendors. A few months ago, I joined up with the Fair Trade Friday subscription box from Mercy House. Every month I pay $31.99, and I get a package of goodies made by ethically treated artisans. My most recent box contained a cute purse and a pair of turquoise earrings. When I joined I assumed that I would be giving a lot of the items as gifts (at least that’s how I justified it to myself…) but I have wanted to keep most of the items for my own use!
So those are a few of my fair trade favorites! What fair trade companies or items do you love? Share in the comments! And if anyone knows of a company that makes sneakers (actual workout/running shoes, not casual tied shoes), please include that. That’s one area where I haven’t found an option I like.
And, by the way, the opinions in this post are entirely mine. None of the companies listed here have asked me to review their products or offered me anything to talk about their products (although, if they want to send me some freebies, I wouldn’t object! Lol)