So do you know what October is, besides the lovely precursor to Winter (shudder)? It’s Fair Trade Month! That means it’s an extra good time to consider why you support fair trade, what impact it truly makes, and how you can learn more and get others involved.
(image via Pinterest)
Throughout this month every year, millions of hard-working and thoughtful consumers, retailers, artisans, and brands will come together to celebrate and increase awareness for fair trade. If you want to help spread the word about what fair trade is and what it’s not, you can help promote greater support for farmers and artisans in developing countries!
What fair trade is not: A handout or charity.
What fair trade is: The promotion of self-sustainability in developing countries. With every dollar we choose to spend on ethically produced, fair-trade certified items, we are showing our support for fair wage. We are highlighting our commitment to the belief that every person on Earth deserves the same wages and opportunities as those in wealthier countries are provided for the same trade performed.
Want some concrete examples?
At Seven Hopes, we work with talented artisan groups all over the world. It’s easy to picture “fair trade” as a concept or movement that we create and not a product of the hard work that actually produces the products we’re buying. Read on for a peek into the drastic changes fair trade can bring to the lives of people all over the globe!
– When you purchase a pair of our soft, colorful Ratna Punjammie Lounging Pants, you are directly supporting women in India of the International Princess Project who have escaped forced prostitution. They can now support their families in a dignified way and work regular daytime hours so that they can be home at night with their young children.
–Our oversized Flower Shoulder Bag is made of a lightweight recycled netting material originally used in fishing and construction. This simple idea for a beautiful bag has grown into a way to change lives. Over 90 people are employed through our fair trade partners in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. This group has grown from 5 to over 90 employees in just over five years. The majority of the staff, mostly young mothers, are encouraged to bring their children to work, as the company provides day care for free. Work has also been outsourced to family members of the staff. To date, over 40 sewing machines have been financed.
–The necklaces on our site, such as the beaded, layered beauty the Camellia Necklace, come from our partnership with 31 BITS. 31 BITS Designs is a socially minded business designed to give internally displaced women in Northern Uganda an opportunity to counter poverty. By giving our beneficiaries access to the international market, they are able to earn an instant income, providing homes, food, and education for their families. Our program equips women by providing literacy education, financial and vocational training, holistic care, and strong support systems, empowering individuals to further their careers and attain social equity.
–Our fun, brightly colored Recycled Storage Bags are hand-crafted in Cambodia from Vietnamese feed bags. You can use them from anything to toys to wrapping paper to laundry. ”Designed to Carry a cause,” the purchase of these recycled laundry bins supports the fight against human trafficking.
When you pause to think about it, the fair trade movement is about so much more than just fair wages. It’s about dignity and a better way of life for those who work just as hard as those in more affluent countries; it’s about equality. There is a temptation to think that just because a cycle of poverty takes place in another country, it will always be that way, it’s far away, and we have no obligation to help stop it. But it’s also easy to take small steps to start chipping away at that cycle in our own ways!
Some of the best ways I know of to spread the word are to talk up your fair trade purchases and take pride in them! I’ll find myself at the grocery store being complimented by the cashier on my beautiful handmade necklace, and I love being able to tell her the story behind 31 BITS and share how she can purchase one of her own!
Happy Fair Trade Month! It’s a great month to do some online shopping!