Shopping Fair Trade
I found out yesterday that yesterday was World Fair Trade Day!
Saturday, May 9, 2009, is World Fair Trade Day, an international celebration of Fair Trade, with events taking place in over 80 countries. In the U.S., our theme is “Everything Is Better When It’s Fair”. The lives of producers and consumers are better because of Fair Trade. When we support Fair Trade, we not only support the people who make the items we consume and enjoy, we also support the environment, women’s rights, children’s rights, cultural dignity and peace building. That’s a powerful thing to do by choosing to buy Fair Trade products.
The theme also reminds us that Fair Trade is more than coffee, chocolate and handcrafts. Americans can now enjoy Fair Trade sugar, bananas, rice, soccer balls, flowers, wine and more! Retail sales in the U.S. of Fair Trade products surpassed $1 billion per year.
– Fair Trade Resource Network (http://www.fairtraderesource.org/wftd/wftd-09/)
Fair trade is a phenomenal thing, both from a social justice perspective and from a having-cool-stuff perspective. I’ve been trying to do more of my shopping fair trade lately, and it’s great fun getting things that are unique, memorable, and often a lot better made than your average items made for mass consumption.
One of the best online discoveries I’ve made recently is World of Good.com (http://worldofgood.ebay.com/), an online shopping site that specializes in “People Positive and Eco Positive sellers and products.” It’s a great site because it gathers many of fair trade and ec0-friendly producers in one place, making it easy to go looking for something in particular, or just browse through a huge variety of very cool products. Each item page specifies the “purchase impact” of the product. (To take a random example, the page for this lip balm indicates that it is made in a producer-owned cooperative, exceeds fair way guide minimum standards, supports marginalized ethnic groups, provides employment for women, and involved no animal products or testing — among other features.) I’ve used World of Good.com several times recently, including for my Mothers’ Day shopping, and I’m very pleased with the results. (Just in case you’re interested, I’ll link to a couple of my recent purchases below.)
I also have to plug one of my favorite fair trade organizations, Ten Thousand Villages. It’s one of the oldest and best, and sells amazing products from all over the world. It has lots of retail locations in the U.S. and Canada, as well as a strong web presence. And it’s run by the Mennonite Central Committee! (I was a member of an Evangelical Mennonite church when I was in junior high and high school, and I developed all kinds of warm fuzzy feelings for the MCC, which does fantastic work around the world.)
Note: You can get some Ten Thousand Villages items at World of Good.com … like this beautiful purse from Cairo, which is one of my new favorite things.