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October 20, 2015


Posted in ethical shopping, fair trade

Fair Trade - Why Does It Matter


You have heard that purchasing Fair Trade makes a difference in the world, a difference in the lives of disadvantaged people, but do you really understand Fair Trade and why it matters?

Consider this information:

Earning a Fair Wage - The first tenet of Fair Trade to understand is that the artisan or producer of the product earns a fair income for their work and they do not work in sweatshops. Workers and especially women often are able to do their work in their homes so that they can care for their families and home without traveling to a factory to work.  

Advance Payment - Since artisans cannot afford to purchase materials to craft the orders it is necessary to give advance payment for materials needed for crafting the products.  In addition, advance wages are paid when artisans have an emergency need for their wages.  

No Child Labor - The UN states over 215 million children are engaged in child labor around the world.  Under Fair Trade guidelines children are not allowed to work on products.  

Respect The Culture of the Artisan - One of the practices of Fair Trade is to respect the culture of the artisans.  Many organizations do this through the designs and types of handcrafts that they ask the artisan to produce.  For example, a weaving group may weave fabric that is a design style that is indicative of their culture and it is then sewn into a purse or other accessories for sale to the world market.  

Protect The Environment - As a Fair Trade organization, you must consider how your work with the artisans impacts the environment.  The use of natural materials, recycling and upcycling, low impact tools in the production of handcrafts and  responsible use of chemicals in food products are all ways that help protect the environment.

Safe Working Conditions - Concern for the safety and welfare of the artisan is a priority with Fair Trade companies and organizations.  Something as simple as a stool for backstrap weavers can reduce strain on their legs  or a new lamp for correct lighting to sew or make jewelry will be very beneficial for the workers.  

Transparent Long Term Relationships - When working with artisans it is important to develop ethical, trusting relationships through long term work along with transparency in the wages and pricing of the handcrafts.  

As you can see when Fair Trade guidelines are followed, products can then be ethically sourced, ethically made, eco friendly with many benefits for the artisans.  When claims are made that a product is Fair Trade it is imperative to verify that the company is a member of a Fair Trade certifying organization so you can be assured they are following the guidelines of Fair Trade..

Fair Trade really does matter with each and every purchase.


Fair Trade Federation

World Fair Trade Organization

Tips For Ethical Fundraising For Your Group

Do you need to raise funds for your school, church or group and want products that are ethically made and free from child labor; something your group can sell with a clear conscience and know that you are helping families in a developing country to a better future.

Fair Trade Artisans Craft Ethical Fundraising Packages

These tips will help you raise funds ethically.

  • Choose your fundraising package wisely.  Choosing Fair Trade products to use for your fundraiser gives back in many ways: the workers receive a fair wage, there is no child labor involved in the production, many products are environmentally friendly and produced in an eco friendly manner.  Be sure to verify that the company is a member of a Fair Trade certifying organization so that you can be assured that the products are Fair Trade.

  • Before selling, take the time to educate your entire group of sellers about the impact they are making by selling these products.  If you are using a Fair Trade fundraiser explain that the products are ethically made so when sales are made they will be giving a fair income to impoverished artisans.  A triple impact with Fair Trade sales:

    • fair income for an artisan
    • profits returned to give additional benefits to artisans
    • funds are raised for your group
  • Educate your customers.  In the same way you teach your group of sellers about an ethical fundraiser you should educate your customers - the people to whom you are selling.  They will appreciate knowing exactly how much their purchase helps impoverished families in developing countries. The company where you purchase your fundraising packages should be able to supply you with literature about the benefits of their products and  how it gives back and helps the artisans. Include this information with each sale.

  • Share your impact. After your fundraising sales are finished, take the time to measure the impact you have made on artisans and their families.  Once again, the company where you purchased the fundraiser should be able to give you facts and figures on how you have helped women, children and families.  Perhaps your sales have helped 100 women earn a fair income or helped to educate 200 children or built new homes for 15 families. Whatever the impact your sales make, your sellers as well as your customers will appreciate knowing how they have made a difference.  

 Ethical handcrafts

There are many options available  in fundraising packages, so you may need to do a little bit of online searching to source a Fair Trade ethical fundraiser package.  I encourage you to consider these tips and ideas and then extend your ethical shopping habits to fundraisers for your church, ball team, school, or other organization.

Fair Trade, ethically sourced fundraisers can be found here.

September 22, 2015


Posted in ethical shopping, fair trade products

5 Ways To Shop Ethically


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.


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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! 

    More information:

    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