Trading Fair

I remember going into a fair trade store in my early 20's. I'm not sure I really understood what itFair Trade Federation meant - but I definitely remember feeling like there was a good chance it wasn't quite for me. There was an impressive amount of batik, the requisite woven baskets and yes ... there was patchouli. So much patchouli! (full disclosure - i happen to love it and the smell is why I went in to begin with.) The lady working there made me feel super welcome, and let me wander until I found something I liked. I bought a ring that day, and I did stop back there for gifts now and then. Still, I was completely unaware of what fair trade meant and why it mattered. But, patchouli...right? click the Fair Trade Federation image to the right if you want to learn more about Fair Trade practices.

I also have a dear friend who embraces all things good and kind and works tirelessly on countless causes. Oh, she used to rock her hand made alpaca sweaters and fair trade woven hemp bags. She WORKED that and looked fantastic in it. We'd go to fairs and and while I wanted to be one those shiny happy people in beautiful colors - I'd always ask "Does this come in black? No? Ok, maybe gray?" I figured fair trade just wasn't for me.

Fast forward twenty years from that first little shop - and I've found my fair trade sweet spot. When I became a mom, I started really paying attention to what I was putting on, in and in front of my kids. Chemicals in clothes, food, toxic toys - you can take a pretty deep dive into that research if you're interested.

Mata Traders Jewelry MakingTo simplify, I started just taking a pause before I bought something for them - and asking "Is this the best I can do right now?" Sometimes that meant organic, sometimes not. Sometimes it was the wooden toy, sometimes not.  But, I did and continue to do my best.  That led me to start questioning some buying choices for myself. How could this shirt cost $5? How is that even possible? How can this company afford to pay their staff, bills and pay the people who made it? Odds are they can't, and the group squeezed the most are the ones who make our clothes.

So, I started taking that five second pause before I bought something for myself. Is this the best I can do? Do I really need five shirts - or maybe just one that I can wear knowing the person who made it earned a living wage? (this also curbs an Amazon prime addiction, btw) There's less laundry, less stuff, and less chance we're supporting an industry that isn't sustainable. Sustainably and fairly made clothing and accessories have come a loooong way and it's easier to find things I'm happy buying and wearing.

This website features quite a few fair trade goods from companies that take this work seriously and provide amazing services and support to their artists in addition to a living wage. We also have some locally made treasures..and even some recycled and upcycled goods I hope you find something you love, but if you don't - continue your search and research to find YOUR fair trade spot. We live in a global economy - let's make it a good one!

November 12, 2015 by Sarah McEwan
Older Post / Newer Post

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.