Making ethical choices can be difficult. There are so many causes that call out to us – causes like the environment, animal rights, and those who are living in poverty, to name a few. It can be overwhelming to care about everything that needs our attention, and that can sometimes cause us to throw up our hands and not do anything. That was me, before I came to realize Fair Trade provided an opportunity to have my spending make a positive difference in the world.
Most children are taught the more obvious ways to help our world: turning off the tap when brushing their teeth and turning the lights off when they leave a room. Coming to understand what Fair Trade is all about, however, has changed my understanding of how people can make a difference.
All of the ideas below provide examples of Fair Trade options that are already on your shopping list, and are available at Ten Thousand Villages. Every one of these ideas has a real, noticeable impact on people’s lives around the world. (Trust me, as a Retail Analyst here, I can see the difference such changes make!)
Here are six ways a budget-conscious person can spend their money to make a difference:
- Giving Unique Gifts: Fair Trade artisans produce beautiful pieces of art that are unique, and useful. Gift-giving is something you’ll always need to do, whether you’re living on your own for the first time, or living at home with a little extra spending money. The Fair Trade options at Villages make it possible to express your gratitude and love to anyone in a meaningful way. The bonus with each purchase is the story of the artisans who created the product; a story that both you and the recipient can appreciate. For example, the purchase of Sacred Mark soap from Prokritee in Bangladesh helps women transition to better lives after escaping the sex trade. This is a practical gift with a powerful story that sells for only $7.
- Home Organization: You never realize all the things you’ll need to set up your first home until you’re there. The first apartment I moved into lacked a lot of essentials, and I had to buy many things in a hurry. A lot of those “essentials” had to do with home organization. Everyone will need a laundry hamper, somewhere to keep their keys and loose change – and where are you going to put all those bills that are suddenly showing up? Those items can all be found at Villages, along with beautiful pieces to fill empty spaces. With each dollar you spend on Fair Trade purchases, you’re making a positive impact.
- Snacks and Drinks: It’s now incredibly easy to find Fair Trade coffee, tea and chocolate, so why would you bother purchasing anything but Fair Trade treats? If you’re going to be keeping yourself stocked with the essential food and drinks, then a single trip to a Fair Trade store like Ten Thousand Villages can be all you need to stock up on your favourites!
- Baking Essentials: Moving out is when many people learn to cook for themselves. When I moved out and realized the only way I was going to get fresh cookies was if I made them myself, I learned to bake. Ten Thousand Villages carries many spices, sugar and other baking supplies. Picking them up when you go to buy your coffee is easy, and keeps you stocked for a long time!
- Clearance: Items eventually go on clearance if they don’t sell out in stores. This means on any given visit, you may find a good selection of high-quality items that have to be moved out quickly in order to accommodate new products. These clearance items are an awesome chance to pick up something beautiful. You don’t know what you’re going to find in this section ahead of time, so it’s worth browsing, and visiting often!
- Always Check Fair Trade First: The best rule of thumb is to always consider, “Can I purchase a Fair Trade version of this?” before buying something. Check websites, or visit stores to see if what you’re looking for is available in an ethical option. It’s no longer difficult to find out if workers were protected in the production of the products you buy. You don’t know what you’ll find until you look.
Since arriving at Ten Thousand Villages, I have been able to find practical things I was planning to purchase anyway, but could get a handmade, unique product from someone I know was paid fairly and benefits in many other ways. Some of the products I’ve already bought that I wouldn’t have thought to look for before are:
- A hand-carved mahogany box to store tea
- A small porcelain plate to keep on the stovetop for spoons
- An eyeglasses holder and decorative piece for the bathroom counter
- A planter to grow cat grass in for my pets
All of these items I would have bought anyway, and each Fair Trade option I was able to find with no extra shopping around or difficulty. Buying ethically, even when you’re on a budget, is easier than you might think!
|Sacred Mark Chai Soap||Level Ground Cane Sugar||Dhaka Laundry Hamper with Liner|