I take so much delight in shopping in other countries. I get to try new styles and new labels that are not available at home, and I often discover new trends in the process. However the more I’ve traveled, the more I’ve realized that I want more than just a different style and different brand; I want my shopping experience to be enriching and helpful as well.
I discovered fair trade shopping a few years ago when I spent four months volunteering in Peru, where the money I spent was fairly distributed in a community or among those who had direct involvement in the manufacturing of the products.
In a world where the mass production of goods takes place in countries where labor is cheap, and the middlemen get a big cut of the price of the clothes on our back, the fair trade concept is getting more popular with shoppers who care.
I have boarded the fair trade train and I am loving it. In Peru, the fair trade market is filled with handicrafts from villagers that do not have the manufacturing capacities of a modern factory. The items were beautiful and there was nothing generic about them. From the hand-chosen colors to the size and tightness of their stitching, everything was as unique as its makers intended them to be. The range of products extended beyond clothing and accessories, and I was able to pick up a couple of well-crafted wooden plates and bowls to take home.
What I very much love about these fair trade products is that they are all culturally relevant to their tradition, making them the perfect souvenirs that are useful in every way, and always great for a show and tell session when friends and family come around.
So, I have various different items from fair trade stores from my travels and it got me thinking… I really should also support fair trade at home. So I have started to look out for fair trade products and, surprisingly, they are everywhere.
I now use fair trade skin care products, drink fair trade coffee and tea and give fair trade gifts. Yes, I sometimes do end up paying more, but not really so much more that it’s going to break the bank, and I know that I am assisting a great cause which puts income in the pockets of many hard working people behind the beautiful things we buy.