For those of you who are not familiar with fair trade, here is the Wikipedia definition (in part):
Fair trade is an organized social movement that aims to help producers in developing countries to make better trading conditions and promote sustainability. The movement known as fairtrade indicating the certification advocates the payment of a higher price to exporters as well as higher social and environmental standards. It focuses in particular on exports from developing countries to developed countries, most notably handicrafts, coffee, cocoa, sugar, tea, bananas, honey, cotton, wine, fresh fruit, chocolate, flowers, and gold. There are several recognized Fairtrade certifiers, including Fairtrade International (formerly called FLO/Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International), IMO and Eco-Social. Additionally, Fair Trade USA, formerly a licensing agency for the Fairtrade International label, broke from the system and is implementing its own fair trade labelling scheme, which has resulted in controversy due to its inclusion of independent smallholders (selling via contract production) and estates for all crops. (fairworldproject.org)
In the past few years, I have become more aware of how businesses work - the good, the bad, & the ugly. Unfortunately, when money is the number one priority, things like the welfare of employees & the health of consumers often go out the window. Many companies, when you trace back the products & the processes they use, either use child labor or forced labor. Prisoners in China (including Christians who are arrested for their beliefs) are forced to work in sweatshops to make things that we buy - that makes me sick to my stomach. I don't at all claim to live a life that is 100% fair trade. I'm just now even trying to be more aware of how I spend my money. So don't hear judgment from me. But it's something that needs considering.
I found some great websites & companies that are fair trade & have purchased many Christmas gifts through them this year. You can find delicious coffee, tea, & chocolate; beautiful jewelry handcrafted from renewable or even recycled materials, as well as other accessories like purses & scarves; home decor & collectibles; & more. Here are some of the websites I found -
Ten Thousand Villages - also has stores around the country, including in Austin
Trades of Hope
Trade as One
Sseko Designs - super cute sandals
Hannah James - really cute jewelry
Apparent Project - jewelry made in Haiti with recycled material
Sit a Spell - a blog written by a woman from our church in College Station, she lists lots of fair trade products
Rage Against the Minivan - another blog with lots of fair trade products
There is also a store here in San Antonio called All's Fair World Gifts. You should check it out!