Let me start this by saying… I love Zulu baskets. They’re intricate, hearty and gorgeous. They also celebrate the ingenuity and artistic talents of a culture that is not my own. That being said, for years the Fair Trade options out there weren’t exactly plentiful and once you got your fill of Zulu baskets, Peruvian pottery or batiked textiles from India… that was pretty much it.
Well, NOT ANY MORE! There’s a wonderful awareness of the importance of buying “local” these days. Food, wine, furniture, artwork and even clothing… and I think it’s fantastic! Not only are we boosting support of artisans and farmers, etc. in our own communities, but we’re reducing the amount of cross-country and even international shipping – which in turn has the potential for greatly reducing our overall carbon footprint on this beautiful planet of ours. I’m on board, I get it, I completely support it.
Recycled papier mache lamp made fairly in Haiti
However… a good number of us reading this post have the luxury of being from a fully “developed”, democratic and capitalist society. We may take for granted that buying locally is one of many options rather than the only one. For many people across the globe (in developing nations) their lives, work and total existence are drawn from only their own small village or their over-populated, highly polluted and economically devastated city. And for many of our brothers & sisters in said situations… decent wages, health care and education is scarcely even a dream. Enter FAIR TRADE!
Blue & White Ceramic planter made fairly in Viet Nam
Social welfare organizations all over this crazy planet have taken on the glorious mission of not only securing fair wages and health care for workers & artisans in these developing nations where their governments have failed them, but sometimes also providing schooling for the worker’s children and housing for the families. AND Fair Trade is also a wonderful way to celebrate the craftsmanship and artistic methods of talented people worldwide!
Lotus journal made fairly in India
Yes, this has been a long introduction to some of my favorite Fair Trade finds and if you’ve lost track… my point is – buying local is an amazing concept. Do it with Godspeed. But also, remember our friends, remarkably crafty and living with much less, and support this wonderful thing we call FAIR TRADE! We all deserve at least the necessities, don’t we?
Clay & Sisal woven bowl made fairly in Swaziland