Tag Archives: Fair Trade

My Confession: Off the Wagon

I have a confession to make: I fell off the wagon. No, I’m not becoming an alcoholic. I haven’t even failed at another diet. No, I’ve failed at a different goal. Back in January I made a plan to go through all of 2017 without purchasing any clothing, shoes, or accessories for myself that were not fair trade produced. I thought I could pull it off because I have a bathing suit that fits, and I didn’t need new athletic shoes. Those are typically the hardest things to find fair trade. But I only made it to May.

This week I went looking for a sundress or two for some summer events we have coming up. I found a couple options on Amazon that were made in the USA. Since there is a minimum wage in America and labor laws in place to protect workers, I figured it was safe to buy American. I’m not sure where the fabric was produced, just that the construction was done here, so it was a bit of a compromise.

Then my favorite bra turned on me. There is nothing quite like being stabbed in the heart… There are a few companies making fair trade under things, I’m a big fan of my Pact Organic socks, and I buy their undershirts for my guys, but I haven’t found a company that caters to plus sized people. In fact, everything fair trade is hard to find in plus sizes, but undergarments and swimwear are the worst.

Since I was already making an order, I bought a few other things. That’s how it goes, isn’t it? If I mess up my diet, I eat the whole buffet. If I break my shopping fast, I make it worth paying shipping. I didn’t max out a credit card or anything, but I picked up a bathing suit cover-up and a pair of pajamas along with some underthings.

My husband is turning 40 this summer, and he decided that rather than throw a party, he would like to go on a short trip, just the two of us (as an introvert, this was more his style). So we booked a birthday weekend in Vegas. In August. Yikes. August in the desert… Since I already failed at my goal, I bought a second bathing suit for the trip, and a pair of cute shoes that were really cheap.

I did it. I messed up. I can’t change that (well, I could return some things. But that’s not always an option). But I have to pick myself up and start again. I went four full months without buying anything that wasn’t fair trade. That’s pretty good. I learned some things about need vs. want and making do with what you have, and I practiced saying no to my urge to medicate my feelings with shopping (it’s like eating your feelings, but more expensive…). Because of my commitment, I also learned about some great fair trade companies. There were some wins, for sure. Now I need to dust myself off and start again. It’s never too late to do the right thing. One binge does not make me a bad person. I’ve only failed if I don’t pick myself up and get back on track. (I’m trying to convince myself here. Is it working? I think so.)

I’m always looking for fair trade retailers, especially if they carry hard-to-find items like swimwear, plus sizes, and athletic shoes! Share your favorite fair trade or American-made company in the comments!

#FSFShoptober Roundup

During the month of October, I’ve been on Facebook, sharing ways that you can make a positive difference with your holiday shopping. As the month comes to a close, I’ve decided to use this week’s post to gather all that information in one place.

And don’t forget about the #FSFShoptober Giveaway! There is still time to enter. All you have to do is share any #FSFShoptober post on Facebook, and you receive one entry for each shared post. One lucky sharer will receive a fair trade gift pack, and a second winner receives a Nourish Hope necklace. Contest ends November 1.


Fair trade/ethical retailers:


AG Jeans – http://www.agjeans.com
Clothed in Hope – http://www.clothedinhope.org
Ethical WARES – http://www.ethicalwares.com
Fair Indigo – http://www.fairindigo.com
Fishers Finery – http://www.fishersfinery.com
Fresh Produce – http://www.freshproduce.com
Pact Organic – http://www.wearpact.com
Punjammies – http://www.sudara.org/collections/PUNJAMMIES
Marketplace Handworks of India – http://www.marketplaceindia.com
Sevenly – http://www.sevenly.org
Three Cords – http://www.threecordshaiti.com
Zady – http://www.zady.com

Clothed in Hope – http://www.clothedinhope.org
Ethical WARES – http://www.ethicalwares.com
FMSC Marketplace – http://www.fmscmarketplace.org
Joyn India – http://www.joynindia.com
Marketplace Handworks of India – http://www.marketplaceindia.com
Rahab’s Rope – http://www.rahabsrope.com
Ten Thousand Villages – http://www.tenthousandvillages.com
Three Cords – http://www.threecordshaiti.com


FMSC Marketplace – http://www.fmscmarketplace.org
Marketplace Handworks of India – http://www.marketplaceindia.com
Ten Thousand Villages – http://www.tenthousandvillages.com


Caribou Coffee – http://www.cariboucoffee.com
Zambeezi Lip Balm – http://www.zambeezi.com
Fair Trade Friday – http://www.fairtradefriday.club

Small businesses:

Create Hope Cuffs – http://www.etsy.com/shop/CreateHopeCuffs

Etsy sellers – http://www.etsy.com

Live.Simple.Soap – http://www.livesimplesoap.com

Made New Co. – http://www.etsy.com/shop/MadeNewCo

Multi-level Marketing or Direct Sales Companies – Fair Trade MLMs:
Sseko – http://www.ssekodesigns.com
Noonday Collection – http://www.noondaycollection.com
Trades of Hope – http://www.tradesofhope.com

Ruffly Buffalo – http://www.zibbet.com/therufflybuffalo

Scrappy Turtle – http://www.etsy.com/shop/ScrappyTurtle

Voice Jewelry by Hannah Kallio – http://www.hannahkallio.org


Tips and tricks:

Adoption Fundraisers

Amazon Smile – http://www.smile.amazon.com

Compassion Gift Catalog – http://www.compassion.com/charitable-gift-catalog.htm

Donations as a Gift


If you have a small business, a link for your MLM/Direct Sales page, or an ethical retailer that you love, leave a comment below! No sales pitches, just the name of the business, what it offers, and a web link.

(Spam, inappropriate links, politics, sketchy information, lengthy sales pitches, etc. may be removed at my discretion)

Book Review: Wear No Evil by Greta Eagan

wear-no-evilI know I’ve been on a kick lately talking about Fair Trade, but I really feel that opportunity is the key to poverty and hunger alleviation. And I think that there is something we can do about it. During the month of October, I will be posting daily on the Food Shelf Friday Facebook page about different resources to help you with your holiday shopping. I’ll be showcasing fair trade companies and ways that your spending can do good. Follow Food Shelf Friday on Facebook (be sure you turn on notifications!), or search hashtag #FSFShoptober.

In addition to that new resource, I also have a quick book review for you – Wear No Evil by Greta Eagan.

Greta Eagan is a fashion insider. But the more she learned about the industry, the more she became alarmed at what a broken system the fashion industry has become. In the past, most people owned just a handful of outfits, and cared for them to get as much out of their clothing as possible. Clothes were handed down, altered, and fabrics were repurposed. Today, we own tons of clothing items, and we freely toss them when they get worn, or when we just get bored of them. Clothes used to be made by artisans, from quality materials (especially designer clothes). Today they’re made of cheap materials, artificial dyes, and toxic synthetic fibers by underpaid workers in unsafe conditions. Even high-cost designer clothes are made this way. Manufacturers’ standards have fallen in order to keep profits high.

It’s more than just fair trade labor practices. Our wasteful fashion choices use tons of water, fill landfills with waste, and pollute the environment with burning fossil fuels and toxic dyes. Wear No Evil identifies sixteen factors we should look for in our clothing choices:

– Natural/Low Impact Dyes – Dyes that are not toxic to the environment
– Natural Fibers – Synthetic fibers don’t biodegrade
– Organic – Fibers grown without using chemicals like pesticides and synthetic fertilizers
– Fair Trade – The growers and workers were paid a fair wage at every stage of the production process
– Recycled/Upcycled – An item made from recycled fibers or repurposed parts of an old item
– Secondhand – An item that has belonged to someone else
– Local – Produced in the United States or sold by a local small business
– Social – A portion of the proceeds benefits a social cause
– Zero Waste – The production process is efficient so there is no waste
– Convertible – The item can be used in more than one way or for more than one occasion so you get more use out of it
– Vegan – There were no animal parts involved in the production of the item
– Low Water Footprint – Water-saving measures were used to minimize the amount of water required to grow the fibers or produce the item
– Transparent – The company is upfront about their process/supply chain/etc.
– Cradle to Cradle – The company has a plan for the item from production to recycling/repurposing
– Slow Fashion – The company values artistry and a well-thought out process
– Style – Do you like it? Does it fit your life?

That’s a lot. I know. You won’t find a single item that hits every goal, and quite frankly you probably don’t care about all of them anyway. Eagan suggests you start every purchase with the style questions: Do I love this? Does it suit my lifestyle? Then she suggests you pick three other goals that are important to you. When you consider a purchase that passes your style question, you can then consider if it meets your other top goals.

My top considerations, after style, are fair trade, second hand, and social. When I find an item I love, it has to be either fair trade, secondhand, or raise money for a cause I believe in. The more goals an item hits, the more likely I am to purchase. For example, I recently needed to buy some socks. I’m not getting socks secondhand, so I went looking for the style and size I needed from a company that uses fair trade practices. I found them at Pact, and in addition to being fair trade, they’re organic, natural cotton fibers, and my purchase supported the company’s social giving as well. Bonus!

The book gives you a really positive way to consider ethical shopping without getting overwhelmed. Eagan suggests that you keep the items you have and love, and care for them as well as possible. She recommends doing less shopping. And she recommends that you shop your priorities rather than getting hung up on the impossible search for the socially, environmentally, and economically perfect item.

The downside of this book is that the first half, talking about the goals and the importance of each one, is timeless, but the second half, a look at current fashion and designers, won’t be up to date for long (it came out in 2014). There are lots of great designers and websites suggested all throughout, but that info will get outdated.  If you’re looking to make some changes to your buying habits, it’s a great starting point. But it’s going to show its age in just a couple years.

What are your favorite ethical retailers? Share in the comments!

The Great Wardrobe Purge: Thoughts on Fair Trade and James Chapter 5


I learned something about myself this week. For a long time I have prided myself (and I use the word “pride” intentionally) on the fact that I’m not a “stuff person.” I don’t like clutter. I didn’t keep every art project my kid brought home from school. I clean out my crawl space and shed every year. We go through my son’s wardrobe and his room twice a year. I’m just not about the stuff. But lately I’ve been feeling like my wardrobe was getting a little full, and I decided to do a full clean out.

I literally removed every stitch of clothing and every accessory from my closet, storage bins, and dresser. I washed every piece of laundry, too, so I knew exactly what I was dealing with. As I pulled each item out of its home, I considered if I really wanted it. Does it fit my body? Does it fit my lifestyle? Do I wear it? It was astounding. I filled a huge Amazon Prime Pantry box with rejected clothing and accessories, and my bed was still covered! Hoodies, cardigans, leggings – up and up the piles grew. I had no idea it was that bad.

The reject pile

I came to a realization: I have wardrobe bulimia. I binge shop and then purge, over and over. Stores worth of clothing pass through my hands, and it’s rare that I keep anything long enough to wear it out. I’m a stuff person after all, not a stuff keeper, but definitely a stuff waster. I’m embarrassed and ashamed of my wastefulness. I’ve been so proud of myself when there was nothing to be proud of!

For a while now I have been learning about the importance of fair trade manufacturing, and have been working toward a fair wardrobe based on minimal purchasing, certified fair trade choices, and secondhand shopping. This purge and inventory taking was part of that process. You have to know what you have in order to make good decisions about future purchases! Ironically (though no coincidence to God, I’m sure…), my purge landed on the same day that I read James 5 as part of my time in the word.

James 5:1-6:   Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.

Some of the evidence stacked against me

My piles of clothing testify against me; I live in luxury and self-indulgence. And I know that the farmers and workers who created my piles of clothing cry out because of oppression and failed wages. And the Lord hears their cries!

On one level, I feel bad that I have been an active and willing participant in this broken system. But I don’t blame myself for the things I didn’t know. And I’m not blaming you either. Until a few years ago, no one talked about international labor practices. We learned about workplace disasters like the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire (New York City, 1911) as history, and celebrated that American labor laws were fixed last century. Meanwhile, we went on wearing cheap t-shirts and tennis shoes made by children in other countries who were paid pennies to work in dangerous factories where they face abuse every day and don’t have an opportunity for a basic education. We didn’t know. In fact, most of us thought we were being responsible if we bought the cheapest clothes possible!

But now that I know better, I feel responsible to repent for the lives that were hurt for my “stuff” and to do better. In fact, my first instinct was to start replacing the things I own with fair trade replacements. But that’s not the answer! It just adds to the waste, filling our landfills and my credit card balance! Fair trade is expensive; it has to be if everyone along the way is getting a fair wage for their work. The real answer is to use up what I have, that damage is already done.

But if this purge taught me anything, it’s that I do not need more stuff. I probably have something that will fill whatever need I have: from work wear I can paint in to a formal gown – including jewelry, handbags, AND shoes, I have at least one thing in my wardrobe to meet any need possible. I don’t usually shop from need; I shop from boredom, and I’ll bet a lot of you do too.

If I shop from need and not from boredom, I can afford fair trade.
The world can’t afford anything less.

Food Shelf Friday’s Fair Trade Favorites

Fair Trade Favorites

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?

  1. Buy fair trade and organic products as much as possible.
  2. 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.
4815821f5eed207df868e6943cbb75df BR040EN-tangled-beads-bracelet-z 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.

chocolate2. 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.

s0608892_sc7 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).

fair-trade-flags 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)

Make sure you find your way to the Food Shelf Friday Facebook or Twitter page this week for a giveaway of a nice assortment of items from Mercy House’s Fair Trade Friday.