Fair Trade Trends Supports Occupy Wall Street!


Abusters's Corporate America Flag.

If you’re one of our regular (and valued) readers, you know that while we’re deeply rooted in ideals of peace and social justice, we’re primarily trendsetters. We share the Fair Trade finds we love, so you can look hip and eat/drink scrumptious goodies while doing good for the workers of the world and for the planet. We’re a fashion/shopping blog with a conscience.

However, we’d be remiss to continue sharing our fabulous Fair Trade trends with you without first commenting on the Occupy Wall Street movement. (Though we have some a-ma-zing fall finds we can’t wait to show you, so check back soon.)

Yes, we are a nation divided. Yes, our elections are tight and heated. Yes, we have become angry, dug in our heels, and stuck to our party’s agenda, sometimes turning a blind eye to injustice. But it’s time to recognize that what’s right is right. That it’s okay to cross the party line if it means following your moral code.

You may be surprised to learn that we, at Fair Trade Trends, are not all liberal democrats (though many of us are). We’re composed of folks from all walks of life who care about how the people of the world are treated. We are grad students, teachers, professors, social workers, and ministers who want to see an end to child slavery, sweatshop labor, and the unfair treatment and payment of the hardworking people who grow our food and sew our clothing. Though some of us would call ourselves liberal and others would call themselves conservative, though some are registered as republicans and some as democrats, we know that the financial, physical, sexual, and emotional abuse of the world’s workers is not okay. It’s not right, and we have vowed to take a stand through our purchases, teaching, preaching, and blogging to say, there’s another, better, fairer way to do business. One that respects people, families, communities, and the environment. That way is Fair Trade.

In this spirit, we support the non-violent Occupy Wall Street movement because it has begun to question the economic discrepancies that result from capitalism run-amok. It’s not anti-American to question the economic structure of our country. It’s not unpatriotic to wonder if our current economic practices truly reflect the values we claim to support as a country. It’s not unChristian to ask yourself (or God) if the way we produce and sell goods in this country truly reflects the teachings of the Bible. (You might find it helpful to check out James 5:1-6, Proverbs 31:8-9, Isaiah 1:17, 1 John 3:16-18,  Matthew 25:31-46Mark 12:41-44, and [of course] 1 Timothy 6:7-10 [“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.”] and 1 Timothy 6:17-19.)

We shouldn’t feel bad or guilty for wondering, why 1% of the people in the United States control 40% of the country’s wealth. Instead, we should feel troubled that “Each year, more than 3 million people experience homelessness, including 1.3 million children(National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty). We should feel upset that last year, “14.5 percent (17.2 million) of U.S. households were food insecure at some time.” We should care that “16.2 million children lived in food-insecure households” in 2010 (ERS/USDA). When economic times are tough, it’s tempting to focus in on your own families or communities and forget the very real needs of others. However, hunger, poverty, unemployment, and homelessness don’t stop when our economy is down; they only get worse. It’s not class warfare to care about people. It’s only good, just, and right.

The Occupy Wall Street movement is varied in scope because we have a lot of real, valid problems in our country. People are hurting, struggling to feed their families and pay for their homes, and they’re wondering how this vast discrepancy in wealth is fair. Why should they lose their homes or their jobs while banks and corporations were forgiven for their transgressions? The argument is made that our major financial institutions are “too big to fail.” Does that mean that American families are too small to matter?

The questions being raised by the Occupy Wall Street movement are important, but we would also urge folks to consider how our corporations affect not only the people of the United States but all of the citizens of our global community.

According to the United Nations Human Development Report 2010, 1.44 billion people live in extreme poverty on less than $1 a day, while 2.6 billion live on less than $2 per day. It is staggering to learn that “every 3.6 seconds another person dies of starvation[,] and the large majority are children under the age of 5.” In fact, “every year six million children die from malnutrition before their fifth birthday.”

And it’s not that the poor people of the world don’t work hard and somehow don’t deserve the relative luxury we enjoy because we were lucky enough to have been born as citizens of the United States. In fact, the opposite is true.

Film Stills from Slavery: A Global Investigation (2000), showing child slaves in the Côte d’Ivoire. On the right is the image of a teenage boy who was beaten after attempting to run away from the cacao farm where he’d been working as a slave.

•  Consider the child slaves working on the cacao plantations. The chocolate industry, while it maintains a kid-friendly façade, relies on the indentured servitude and slave labor of trafficked children for the production of cacao beans. For instance, in 2000, we, in the United States, “ate 3.3 billion pounds of chocolate[, 43% of which came from the Côte d’Ivoire] and spent $13 billion on it” (Global Exchange). However, in the same year, the US State Department reported that “some 15,000 Malian children work[ed] on Ivoirian cocoa and coffee plantations. Many [were] under 12 years-of-age, sold into indentured servitude for $140 . . ., and work[ed] 12-hour days for $135 to $189 . . . per year.” According to Slavery: A Global Investigation (2000), others were never paid and have never even tasted chocolate. In fact, it is estimated that 284,000 children, many under the age of ten, work in the cocoa industry performing hazardous labor such as clearing forest and harvesting cacao pods with machetes and using pesticides and insecticides without protective gear (Global Exchange). By buying from middlemen, multinational candy corporations, such as Hershey’s, Mars, and Nestlé, can claim plausible deniability and go on profiting unchecked from these documented injustices.

"At a loom north of Lahore, Pakistan, girls are forced to work 12 hours a day, sometimes seven days a week. In Pakistan, a quarter of all carpet weavers are girls under the age of 15. (Punjab, Pakistan, 2000)" (Goodweave).

•  Child labor and trafficking is not limited to the cacao field but is a massive problem of our global economy in which, according to the International Labor Organization, “200 million children work, and a staggering 115 million at least, are subject to [the] worst forms” of child labor. The handmade carpet industry of South Asia also relies on this sort of child labor and has approximately 250,000 children working behind the looms. Many of these children, “ages 4 to 14,” have been kidnapped and sold into slave labor in which they are “forced to work as many as 18 hours a day to weave rugs destined for export markets such as the US. They are subject to malnutrition, impaired vision, deformities from sitting long hours in cramped loom sheds, respiratory diseases from inhaling wool fibers and wounds from using sharp tools.” Tragically, children who have been trafficked into the carpet industry also have a higher chance of being resold into the sex industry (GoodWeave).

"Workers packaging flowers in Columbia" (International Labor Rights Forum).

•  While women reportedly love flowers, the flower industry, which notoriously pays its workers poverty wages, clearly doesn’t love women back. Over half of the women working in Ecuador’s flower industry have faced sexual harassment at work. Further, The U.S./Labor Education in the Americas Project and The International Labor Rights Fund also reports that “66% of Colombian and Ecuadorian flower workers suffer from work-related health problems. [Since p]esticide abuse is rampant – flower workers experience higher-than-average rates of premature births, congenital malformations, and miscarriages.” And yet, these facts are hidden from the consumer, and we continue to give bouquets of flowers as signs of our affection.

"Bangladesh's garment workers are clearly among the hardest working women and men in the world, but also the most exploited. It is the giant multinationals like Wal-Mart, Asda, Tesco, H&M and others, along with BGMEA, who are driving down the wages of Bangladesh's garment workers and trapping them in misery" (The Institute for Global Labour & Human Rights).

•  And injustice isn’t the exclusive domain of the cash crop field or the rug industry; the garment industry also shares in the abuse of workers to increase profit. For instance, consider, for example, the sweatshops of Bangladesh, “the third largest exporter in the world of garments to the U.S.,” where workers, mostly women, are made to work very long hours for very little pay and often face sexual harassment, threats, and unsafe working conditions. (For more information see The Institute for Global Labour & Human Right’s The Hidden Face of Globalization (2003), which documents the life of women garment factories workers in Bangladesh).

As representative of the 3.5 million workers toiling in Bangladesh’s sweatshops, take for example the 2,500 workers, mostly young women, working in Chittagong’s Anowara Apparels factory. The women working in this factory make clothing almost exclusively for Wal-Mart, which reported 2010 Net Sales of 405 billion and an operating income of 24 billion (“Walmart 2010 Annual Report: We Save People Money So They Can Live Better”). While the Walton family’s wealth continues to grow, the starting salary for the women working in the Anowara Apparels factory prior to the controversially inadequate November 2010 Bangladesh minimum wage increase* was only 11 ½¢ per hour, with senior workers only making a maximum of 17¢ per hour. Every hour, the women each made ten pairs of jeans; for each pair they made, they were paid less than 2¢ (Institute for Global Labour & Human Rights).

Ironically, Wal-Mart’s old slogan, “Always Low Prices” more accurately reflects the abject poverty in which these women lived and will continue to live on the grossly inadequate new minimum wage of 21¢ an hour, than their new slogan, “Save Money. Live Better.” Wal-Mart’s new campaign promises are not offered to the Bangladeshi women who make the merchandise for their stores and “can only afford to rent miserable one-room hovels in slum neighborhoods.” Wal-Mart, and the other major multinationals, could easily bear the economic burden of paying their workers a living wage for their labor, but instead they are seeking the highest profit possible. Perhaps they should try a more accurate slogan: Money Matters. People Don’t.

Whether we call ourselves conservatives or liberals, whether we’re registered as republicans or democrats, whether we come from a red or blue state, no matter if our values stem from religious beliefs or other sources, we know, deep down, that the exploitation of the world’s workers is wrong. When we read about child slavery, sweatshop labor, and corporate brutality, we should feel shocked and disgusted.  We should feel outrage, and we should dedicate ourselves to ending the humanitarian crimes committed in the interest of corporate greed.

Instead, our corporations and media outlets have tricked us into believing it’s un-American to recognize and work to stop inhumanity and injustice. We are told that the U.S.’s current business practices are so sacred and fragile that we can’t dare question them. In reality, the Occupy Wall Street movement is not attempting to dismantle the roots of our economic structure; they are shining a light on a system that is already broken.  Badly broken.  They are not inciting class warfare, they are standing up to say, enough is enough.  There is right, and there is wrong, and we know the difference.

So, what can you do in your everyday life to put an end to widespread economic inequality and injustice?  One way you can send the message that you care about the ways in which U.S. corporations treat their workers (both here and around the world) is to vote with your dollars.  Purchasing Fair Trade products (coffee, chocolate, tea, food, clothing, housewares, sports equipment, etc.) lets you cast an economic ballot for a better world.

By buying fair trade products, you are saying NO! to:

  • Human Trafficking
  • Enforced Child Labor
  • Cyclical, Inescapable Poverty
  • Environmental Degradation

And, you are saying YES! to:

  • Fair Prices for Workers
  • Fair Working Conditions
  • Community Development (Schools, Health Care, etc.)
  • Environmental Sustainability

Thanks for doing your part to make the world a better place. Please stop back often as we continue to share our tastiest and trendiest Fair Trade finds.

Peace and Love,

Your Fair Trade Trendsters

* While a definite improvement from the minimum wage of 1,662 taka ($23) a month, which had remained unchanged since 2006, Bangladesh’s new minimum wage of 3,000 taka ($42) a month, effected on November 1, 2010, is considered grossly inadequate and prompted protests from garment workers. The workers were only asking for an hourly minimum wage increase to 5,000 taka ($70) a month (or 35¢ per hour) when the actual living wage rate has been estimated by the Asia Floor Wage Campaign to be just over 10,000 Taka ($139) a month. However, since the garment industry constitutes 11 billion dollars of Bangladesh’s exports, the government seems to have responded to pressure from the multinational corporations to keep the minimum wage unfairly low (International Trade Union Confederation, Labour Behind the Label, and CIA: The World Factbook). 

We’ve Missed You!

We’re sorry we’ve been silent over the summer. Moves, new jobs, new grad programs, and the daily grind (supported by Fair Trade coffee, of course) have taken up the time of our small, 100% volunteer staff. However, since October is Fair Trade month, we’re remembering to prioritize our commitment to the movement and to you, our loyal readers. Please stop back often as we continue to share the hippest, tastiest, & most fantastic Fair Trade finds.

Peace and Love,

Your Fair Trade Trendsters

Ethical Easter Dresses for Your Little Girl!

This Easter, your little girl could look adorable in one of these super cute, Fair Trade Easter dresses, such as Kate Quinn Organics's 'Moroccan' Boho Dress (shown above on left; the boy on the right is wearing the Half Sleeve Woven Shirt in Glacier).

We hoped you liked our complete guide to Fair Trading your Easter.  With Fair Trade, not only are you able to delight your wee ones with sweet treats, but you can also dress your little ladies in their ethical Easter best.

Check out these darling, Fair Trade dresses, perfect for Easter Sunday, a picnic, an Easter Egg hunt, or dinner at Grandma’s:

Sunhats & Tights:

Pair one of these adorable dresses with an oh-so-cute sunhat and tights to complete a darling Easter ensemble:

  • Kate Quinn Organics’s Sun Hat in Blackberry Violet in size Youth (Shown in an Infant size; also available in Peony Youth; Vanilla Sunhat also available in infant sizes from Tiagu):

  • Global Mamas’s Baby Sun Hat in Pink Sunflower (Available at Revive; also available in Jungle Green in both Kid and Baby size from Trade for Change):

  • Maggie’s Organics’s Baby and Youth Tights (Available in Natural Texture, Plum Texture, Flowered, & Striped):

We hope you have a very happy Fair Trade Easter!  (Or, should we say hoppy Easter!)

Peace and Love,

Your Fair Trade Trendsters

Hippity Hoppity, Your Fair Trade Easter’s On Its Way!

Delight your wee ones with these fabulous Fair Trade finds, including Global Exchange's Bundle of Bunnies Zippered Toy (shown above).

As our loyal readers know, we love to provide you with the inspiration and resources to Fair Trade your holiday celebrations (check out our complete guides to Fair Trading your St. Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day, & Halloween).  If you’re new to Fair Trade or aren’t yet able to make Fair Trade part of your day-to-day purchases, holidays are a great way to support the movement and  show your family and friends you don’t just care about them, but you also care about the farmers and artisans who worked so hard to produce their treats and gifts.

We, at Fair Trade Trends, love Easter, a time of remembrance and renewal.  Whether you celebrate Easter as a religious holiday or simply enjoy the time to gather with friends and family, we’ve got some fabulous Fair Trade finds for you!

We hope you enjoy our Complete Guide to Fair Trading your Easter!

FAIR TRADE CHOCOLATE TREATS:

  • Divine Chocolate’s Milk Chocolate Speckled Eggs (Available at SERRV and Greenheart):

  • Sweat Earth Chocolates’s Decorated Chocolate Egg (Available ganache fillings: Hazelnut, Aztec, Vanilla Creme, & Classic Dark Chocolate; available vegan fillings: Peanut Butter, Coconut, & Vegan Caramel):

  • Sjaak’s Organic Chocolates’s Assorted Chocolate Filled Egg Box (“Five tantalizing filled chocolate eggs. Flavors include; Raspberry, Vanilla, Creamy caramel, Almond Butter and Peanut Butter”):

  • Coco-Zen’s Bunny Truffles – 2-Piece Tin (“Choose from: White Chocolate  with Dark Chocoloate Coconut Ganache, Milk Chocolate with Milk Chocolate Latte Ganache, & Dark Chocolate with Dark Chocolate Orange Ganache; 1-Piece Box and 6-Piece Tin with 2 Truffles of each flavor also available):

  • Sweet Earth Chocolates’s Easter Egg Gift Box (Both Classic and Vegan available: “Classic will have a milk chocolate bunny, a mixture of dark and milk chocolate eggs, a chocolate ganache egg, a vanilla creme egg and a caramel filled egg. The vegan version will have all dark chocolate bunny & eggs with a peanut butter filled egg, a caramel egg & a toasted coconut fondant egg”):

  • Theo Chocolate’s Spring Confection Collection (“This 8 piece box includes 1 each: Lime Coriander, Pearl Jasmine, Burnt Sugar, Lemon, Mint, Hazelnut Gianduja, Lavender Caramel & Ginger Rose Caramel”):

FAIR TRADE EASTER BASKETS:

“Small teal-colored Basket includes: Divine milk chocolate Easter bunnies, Divine milk chocolate speckled eggs, Women’s Bean Project jelly beans, Women’s Bean project espresso beans”:


“Medium red easter basket includes: Divine milk chocolate Easter bunnies, Divine milk chocolate speckled eggs, Women’s Bean Project jelly beans, Women’s Bean project espresso beans, chocolate chip oatmeal cookie mix”:

“Large yellow easter basket includes: Divine milk chocolate Easter bunnies, Divine milk chocolate speckled eggs, 2 Women’s Bean Project jelly beans, Women’s Bean project espresso beans, snickerdoodle cookie mix, one small Divine milk chocolate bar, one small Divine dark chocolate bar, and one super soft Alpaca stuffed bunny”:

  • Children of the World Basket (“The colorful Children of the World Garland (Sasha, India), Children of the World Ornament (Manos Amigas, Peru) and Divine Milk Chocolate Eggs packaged in a handmade basket”; available at SERRV):

  • Bird Lover’s Basket (“Homemade basket contains papier mâché Perching Dove Box (Asha Handicrafts, India), Divine Dark Chocolate Eggs and the realistic Bird’s Nest with Eggs, made with dyed tagua nuts (Camari, Ecuador)”; available at SERRV):

  • Global Exchange’s Easter Bunny Gift Box (Includes a handmade carrot zippered toy with three mini bunnies nestled inside and two bags of delicious milk chocolate coins):

FAIR TRADE STUFFED BUNNY RABBITS & Spring Finger PUppets:

FAIR TRADE EASTER GIFTS & CARDs:

  • The Community Crafts Association of the Philippines’s Coco Rabbit Planter (Available at SERRV):

  • The Community Crafts Association of the Philippines’s Wooly Rabbit Planter (Available at Ten Thousand Villages):

  • CORR – The Jute Works’s Bunny Lantern (Available at SERRV):

  • Salay Handmade Paper’s Bunny Love Card (Available at Ten Thousand Villages):

FAIR TRADE RELIGIOUS GIFTS & CARDS:

Hoping you have a joyful Easter!

[Update: Check out these darling Fair Trade Easter dresses for your little girl!]

Peace and Love,

Your Fair Trade Trendsters

Anchors Aweigh: Fair Trade Goes Nautical

Ethos Paris's Vista Organic Sweater Dress in Navy (Available at Revive Fair Trade).

Ahoy, Mateys!

Last week on Facebook, we came across a divine photo collection of chic, new Nautical pieces available from the Fair Trade store Revive.  (Want to share in even more of the Fair Trade fun?  We’d lurve for you to like us on Facebook and/or follow us on Twitter!)

As our loyal readers know, we are head-over-heels for Ethos Paris and their Organic Sharav Dress.  Needless to say, when we saw the latest version in Navy Stripes, we pounced.  (Available at Revive; also available in Ebony and Plum; Ethos Paris’s Boa Fine Jersey Scarf in Navy also pictured):

This dress is so unbelievably flattering and well-constructed and looks absolutely perfected paired with Ethos Paris’s Clipper Organic Flatknit Cardigan in Navy (Available at Revive; Nautica Organic Sleeveless Dress in Navy Stripes also pictured):

Inspired by Ethos Paris’s timeless salute to all things nautical, we offer you a collection of dock rockin’ trends for the whole family:

  • Indigenous Designs’s Bon Marche Tee in Navy (Also available in Capri, Citrine, Mulberry, and Pink):

  • Ethos Paris’s Organic Flatknit Tank in Grey (Available at Revive):

  • Tropical Items Madagascar, LCC’s Raffia Plaited Crochet Hat in Dark Red (Also available in Dusty Pink, Natural, Black, Natural/Black, and Teal; TIM offers a number of charming Raffia hats in wide variety of colors):

  • Tompkins Point Apparel’s Classic Polo in Navy (Also available in White, Tangerine, Light Blue, Pink, and Yellow):

  • Little Green Radicals’s Nautical Dress (Available at Autonomie Project):

Looking classically stylish is smooth sailing with Fair Trade!

Peace and Love,

Your Fair Trade Trendsters

Happy Spring!

While March has refused to go out like a lamb (at least in Ohio), we are still thinking spring.  And what better way to celebrate the arrival of warmer weather than with these beautiful hand-painted kites from Mitra Bali?:

“A non-governmental, non-profit organization, the Mitra Bali Foundation acts as a market and export facilitator for small craft producers. These small producers represent the diverse Balinese culture that attracts tourism to the area, but because they live in more remote areas and work on a small scale, haven’t benefited by the economic influx of the tourism industry.”

Check out these gorgeous kites, which are available through one of our favorite U.S. non-profits — SERRV.

“An oversized monarch to migrate through the local park with you. Hand painted, and made of nylon, bamboo, and styrofoam.”

“Colorful kites are ready to take flight—or alight in your home. Nylon wings and body are handpainted in a dry brush technique, and cover a bamboo frame and retractable wings. String attached to frame for hanging, or attach your own string for flying.”

And if butterflies don’t strike your fancy, check out these impressive, decorative dragon kites, a striking statement for any young adventurer’s bedroom:

These awesome Fair Trade kites make us want to visit a park, kick off our shoes, and channel our inner seven-year-old.  Go fly a kite?  Yes, please!

Happy Spring!

Peace and Love,

Your Fair Trade Trendsters

PS Check back soon for our complete guide to Fair Trading your Easter celebrations!

The Andean Collection: Our New Obsession

Dear Andean Collection,

How have we not heard of you sooner?  We are literally in lurve with your ethical company and your breathtakingly beautiful jewelry.  Seriously, you’ve taken our breath, and we need it back.  Why?  So we can sing your praises!

Pardon us a moment while we swoon over these noteworthy pieces from Andean Collection’s awesome lookbook:

  • The Floresta Necklace in Teal (Also available in Lavender, Ivory, and Sunset Orange):

  • The Riverbed Bracelet (Shown in Soft Gray, Ivory, Coral, and Turquoise; also available in Chocolate, Incan Sun, Nude, Olive Green, Onyx, and Tomato):

Readers, these are just a few of the gorgeous necklaces, bracelet, earrings, and belts available from one of our new favorite companies.

We hope you enjoy Andean Collection as much as we do!

Peace and Love,

Your Fair Trade Trendsters