Three ways Fair Trade gifts have levelled up

28 March, 2014

I passed a shop yesterday that had a sign outside that in big capitals letters said “PROUD TO STOCK FREE TRADE PRODUCTS”

It cracked me up, it is a mistake I have seen so often. I used to sit through meetings with the Auckland mayor and hear him refer to Fair Trade as Free Trade throughout. He’d say in an inspirational tone “We are open to Free Trade – it is an innovative way to make a better world!” – not realising that the world has been run on the unfair rule sof free trade since trading began! Despite the mistake, those meetings eventually led to Auckland gaining Fair Trade Town status. When we moved to London we began London’s biggest Fair Trade Christmas market. It has been a huge part of our life for so long but I have been out of the Fair Trade scene for a little while now – living in a bubble of almost no-spend unless it is a second hand shop or craft supplies to make my own things. It has been interesting to peep in and see how it is changing in recent years.

Here are three things I have noticed:

1- Fair Trade products are more beautiful than ever
Now, I hate trends. I HATE that people somewhere else can influence my mind and make me like something that two years ago I would never in a million year shave worn. Seriously, right now I am sitting here in VELVET LEGGINGS. I love how the Story of Stuff Video puts it:

But anyway, whatever, the shameful fact is I AM influenced by trends. And I am so stoked when I find something that is having a “moment” in a junk store. (Oh hi, velvet leggins for fifty cents!)

Fair trade has over this last year done an incredible job at either informing these trends (I hope it is this way round, but that might be naive) or keeping up with them.

2- Fair trade products are more accessible than ever

It used to be that you had to take a trip to a special boutique shop, or an Oxfam shop, or go to a fairtrade market or visit an online store. These days it seems that these beautiful fair trade products are everywhere.

A company called
Lionshome recently got in touch and asked me to check out their stuff. They basically curate beautiful things – what a job- and when you type in Fair Trade you get so much gorgeousness. I literally couldn’t stop click on the cast iron bells and the wooden printing blocks. I mean, hello? So nice. You can also see where the product is curated from – so you can avoid Amazon by checking out the logo in the right hand side, if you so wish. I was also drooling a bit over the organic linen. Ohhhhh.

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I love that it is so easy to make ethical decisions.

3- The movement is gaining momentum.
Two decades after Fair trade certification began it continues to grow. It took a hit with the recession but this last year saw growth once gain of 2% – meaning in the UK alone this market is now worth GBP 1.64 billion and will put GBP 30 million extra into the hands of crafters and farmers who need it. FLIPPING AWESOME. Let’s keep growing it, hey?

Just to keep it real, I’ll finish with another Story of Stuff video:

Changing our consumption habits is an important part of the story, Fair Trade is LIFE CHANGING for people. However, we need to see the bigger picture and on a daily basis resist and rebel, not sit back and think we have done our bit.

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