Last weekend I attended the annual Artreach Ethical Gift Fair and was inspired to share the many ways we can support local, fair trade businesses.
First, what exactly is fair trade? Fair trade is a global movement made up of a diverse network of producers (farmers, artisans, and workers), companies, shoppers, advocates, and organizations putting people and planet first. These handcrafted products are fair trade certified and reduce poverty, encourage environmentally friendly production methods, safeguard humane working conditions, and promote gender equality. Some well-known fair trade companies include TOMS Shoes, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, Noonday Collection, Beautycounter, and Young Living.
As blogger Jen Hatmaker writes, our dollars can be a powerful force for good. Take a look at some of her recommendations for companies that give back, employ vulnerable workers, invest in struggling communities and follow fair-trade and ecologically sound policies.
In May I attended Mom 2.0 Summit and met a life and style blogger, Molly Stillman who believes in ethical fashion and clean beauty. She has great advice about where to start when it comes to shopping ethically. She created an ethical brand directory with over 400 companies for everyone – from jewelry to menswear to intimates to kids clothing to gifts. Molly has educated me with her view of cheap goods.
I’m a bargain shopper and LOVE a good deal. However, during Fair Trade Month in October, she wrote, “…when a shirt or a pair of jeans is really cheap, normally that means that the people making it were not paid fairly.”
Molly also mentions that secondhand is one of THE most ethical ways to shop. I recently bought a beautiful “upcycled” purse. I learned that upcycling (versus recycling) means you reuse discarded objects or material in such a way as to create a product of a higher quality or value than the original.
Here are a few of my personal favorite fair trade companies, many women-owned (I have something from each of them), and some based in Austin.
I love them for their products, but even more importantly for what they stand for and how they directly make the world a better place.
In addition to these organizations, we also have Austin-based fair trade certified coffee beans like Dominican Joe, farm to table restaurants like Emmer & Rye, and ice cream shops like Lick Honest Ice Creams.
- Thistle Farms: I love their lip balm.
- Preemptive Love Coalition: I love their refugee-made soap.
- Ten Thousand Villages (Austin): I love that it’s run by volunteers.
- Purse & Clutch (Austin): I love the classic camel clutch.
- Raven + Lily (Fredericksburg): Great earrings and lovely smelling candles.
- Noonday Collection: Just bought the pom-pom wreath and I love it.
- Beautycounter: Best dewy, light weight foundation.
- Sanctuary Holistic Kitchen (Georgetown): Phenomenal hydration salve and rose hip face serum.
- Young Living: nature’s greatest gifts wrapped in a bundle that transforms lives with wellness and purpose.
- Bombas: most asked for item from homeless shelters is socks, they have made some pretty comfy socks…and they’ll give a pair for every one purchased
Knowing that I’m helping others, supporting ethical businesses, and contributing to a healthier environment make me feel better about how I’m spending my money. I’m grateful to the entrepreneurs who have made these products – and the beautiful benefits they provide – accessible to us.