September 20, 2011

fair trade

my church, among other organizations, participated in free austin this week. it's a week dedicated to the awareness and support of fair trade and prevention of child traffiking. it's made up of different panels, movies and conversations that really educate people about how these are related.

i'm so glad i decided to go to the event tonight. i feel like i have always heard rumors about 'oh that's slave chocolate' or 'a kid probably made that for you since you bought it at (insert store name here).' i am certain that i only am on the cusp of knowledge around these issues, but hey--when you decide to become informed, you have to start somewhere, and really do your research, ask questions, etc.

we first viewed a film called, 'the dark side of chocolate.' this was an investigation into child traffiking and child slave labor within mainly the ivory coast, which produces something like 42% of the worlds cocoa. it was grieving to watch. that's the best word i can think of. it almost doesn't seem real...just that your watching a scary movie or something. and then you realize that the crying child on the screen is 12 years old, hundreds of miles away from their home. and it breaks you.

following the film, we had a panel of founders of some great organizations fighting for fair trade. we had raven and lily, open arms and good & fair clothing. it was great to hear their personal stories of how their lives were changed by witnessing first hand, the horrors of unfair trade/slave labor and what it does to people, their communities and how it feeds this continuous cycle of poverty.

i wanted to share some crazy information we were given tonight on the good and not-so-good places to shop. we were given lists of top tens on where to go for certain products. here we go!

the best of the best
(local austin fair trade)
1. good and fair clothing
2. hill country tribers
3. open arms shop
4. 10 thousand villages
5. whole foods
6. whole earth provisions
7. wanderland
8. parts + labor
9. eco-wise
10. all consigmnet and resale shops

the next best thing
(online fair trade retailers)
(five more, just for fun!)

when convienence wins
(good national retailers)
1. patagonia
2. eileen fisher
3. alternative apparel
4. gap brand
5. nordstrom brand
6. levi's
7. lego, melissa and doug, green toys
8. dell, hp, nokia
9. TOMS shoes
10. adidas, simple shoes

okay, here are the ones to avoid! the rep from raven and lilly said it best tonight. she said, "if it's cheap for you, it's because someone else paid the cost." yikes.

the worst of the worst
(bad national retailers)
1. hanes brand
2. carter
3. oskosh brand
4. sharp, cannon, toshiba
5. wal-mart
6. skechers
7. dillards, jc pennys
8. hasbro toys
9. leap frog, nintendo
10. burlington coat factory

so there you have it. i was reminded tonight of just how little we actually need. we don't need lots of clothes or accessories. buying fair trade is more expensive, but honestly---we don't need as much as we think we do. and it's worth it to contribute towards fair trade, and truly have a better quality product. it tells a story of someone legitimatley making something beautiful for you.

thanks for reading!


  1. Amanda said last night went really well!! I'm so glad that so many people came together as one! It shows the growth in this type of community. It IS a commitment, but the pay-off is so great! Someone else always pays the price for the things we buy & wear every day!
    This week on ABC Nightly News, they are doing another "made in America" series. Last night was on decorating a dorm room. All those colleges that send out "dorm decoration" catalogs found out that not ONE item in those catalogs were made in America!! NONE!! ABC went out & found comparable items for their experiment and found it was $90 CHEAPER than the "not made in America" stuff!!
    I know I have wasted a lot in my years, but I have tried to be more thoughtful in my choices in the past couple of years. Maybe because I see & hear things on twitter or through someone's blog post about living, not only within my means, but using sustainable products & clothing. Looking for that Made in America brand. And thanks for the list of stores & places that are good & conscientious.
    We cannot afford to live with our "head in the sand"! Be bold & intentional in choosing products and retailers!

  2. thank you mrs. k.!!! amanda and the others (which we all know is mostly amanda, haha!) did an amazing job with the event. it was super informative and had a lot to see and do. the film was great too, i hope you get to see it some time!

    love all your comments!!!!

  3. What an amazing event. Thanks so much for this information, Emily! I definitely will strive to do a little more research before I purchase!!