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, Easter, & Halloween and check back soon for more winter holiday tips, including Christmas essentials). 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.
With the Festival of Lights right around the corner, we wanted to share our fabulous Fair Trade Chanukah finds:
Know someone whose fingers are practically glued to their iPhone, iPod, or iPad? The unisex Etre Touchy Gloves (available at Fair Indigo; shown above in Ecru/Oxford Blue Stripe) make the perfect winter gift:
These super comfy 100% lambswool gloves are made fairly “at an Old World knitting mill in Scotland” and come in a variety of additional colors (Black w/ Grey Trim, Grey w/ Charcoal Trim, Rhapsody Blue w/ Red Trim, Oxford Blue w/ Yellow Trim, Black/Red Stripe, & Oxford Blue/Ecru Stripe).
For folks who want even more coverage, Etre has designed a special Fivepoint Texting Glove (also available at Fair Indigo):
While we’ll also be sharing the festive side of holiday entertaining, there’s something magical about an earthy, simple dinner table. Pair neutral hues with natural elements like pine cones, winter greenery, and berries to create an inviting space that will welcome your guests with classic charm and grace.
Adding glass, classic metals, and candlelight to a natural background of whites, creams, and chocolates provides a chic take on merry and bright. Moreover, it’s the perfect, romantic foundation upon which to layer elements from nature – holly and fir branches, sprigs of myrtle, pine cones, bark, and moss. What a lovely winter wonderland.
Peace and Love,
Your Fair Trade Trendsters
PS We have so fallen in lurve with Nkuku (featured frequently above). Not only are they ridiculously trendy and elegant, but:
Andean Collection’s Floresta Earrings in Berry (also available in Lavender, Teal, Sunset Orange, Ivory, Soft Gray, Midnight Teal):
Andean Collection’s Square Stud Earrings in Berry (also available in Leaf Green, Pacific Blue, Ivory, Midnight Teal, Soft Gray, Sunset Orange, Onyx, & Pink Grapefruit; also available at Greenheart):
Andean Collection’s Mesa Ring in Berry (also available in Ivory, Leaf Green, Midnight Teal, Soft Gray, & Sunset Orange; also available at Greenheart):
Not only will these delicious berries perk up your late fall looks, but they’ll continue to make a brilliant splash in the winter months. Instead of traditional bling, why not pair one of Andean Collection’s show-stopping statement pieces with your little black party dress?
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 25:31-46, Mark 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.)
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.
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.
• 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:
Enforced Child Labor
Cyclical, Inescapable Poverty
And, you are saying YES! to:
Fair Prices for Workers
Fair Working Conditions
Community Development (Schools, Health Care, etc.)
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).