We read the stories of workers in sweatshops almost daily on the internet and other news media which causes me to pause and reflect on purchases I make each day.
Was that new scarf I purchased ethically sourced? Are my new kitchen towels Fair Trade or made in sweatshops? Where are the fundraising products made that our church and school use in their fundraisers.
These tips will give you ideas on how to shop consciously and shop your ethics.
- Look for products in Fair Trade stores or companies that source ethically made products, either online or locally. You will be surprised at the diversity of products available. Be sure to check the products for a label that certifies it is really an ethically sourced, Fair Trade product. Often a company will give a portion of profits to do good but their products are made in sweatshops - the decision is yours whether to buy from them.
- Buy used. Decide if you need a new item or if an item from a second hand store would suffice. All types of nearly new products can be found at thrift / re-sale stores - housewares, dishes, furniture, clothing and more. Many of the thrift stores are run by a charitable organization so your purchasing dollars will make a double impact - reducing consumption of new products and helping the charity. See the reading links below for a blog that has great posts about buying from thrift and second hand stores.
- Do a little research and look for companies that work directly with artisan groups to have their products made and also that they give back to the artisans through extra benefits. One concept of Fair Trade guidelines is that the company gives back to the artisan groups with benefits for them, their families and communities such as education for the children, technical or financial help for their businesses, added skill building for the artisans, micro credit loans, interest free loans etc. Companies that are members of a Fair Trade organization have been screened to verify the company's work.
- Do you really need it? Perhaps you can re-purpose an item you already have in your home. Recycling isn’t always about depositing your cans and bottles in the recycle bin, but can also be about upcycling and repurposing items. As we all reduce the amount we consume, our environment is helped through less manufacturing, less impact on our world.
- Fruit and vegetables are shipped to consumers from around the world. Many countries do not require that the field workers be protected from the pesticides and herbicides that they spray on the crops. Their health is impacted from breathing and through contact with the insecticides and herbicides. If possible always buy organic since it is not only healthier for you and your family but also for the field workers and the environment.
From tomatoes, to a new skirt, to those school fundraiser products, you too can shop your ethics each day by taking a little time to consider your purchase. You really do vote your ethics when you make a purchase.
"Every time you spend money, you are casting a vote for the kind of world you want." Anna Lappe
What kind of world do you want?
Please share your tips in the comments below!
StyleWise - blog about Fair Trade and sustainable fashion, emphasis on thrift stores
Sotela, the blog - how to live a more eco conscious lifestyle.
Lake And River Co. - a green living blog
Lets Be Fair - a Fair Trade, ethical lifestyle blog
4AllHumanity - a Fair Trade fashion company that works directly with artisans in Guatemala
Kretyen Fair Trade - a local Fair Trade store in Kansas
Alternatives Global Marketplace - online Fair Trade store
GrassRoots Fair Trade - a local store in Alaska
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