Bangladesh Artisans

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What looks like an egg, is as hard as rock, and has the superhuman ability to help save endangered elephants and rainforests?

Say hello to tagua, the seed of a palm tree found in South American tropical countries ranging from Ecuador to northwestern Brazil. Commonly known as ivory palms or tagua palms, these trees’ scientific name means, “plant ivory.”

Rebecca-bananaYou know you’re in for a great conference when someone runs on stage dressed as a banana. And it’s even better when you get to model this banana costume yourself later that day!

From January 14 to 16, I, along with some Ten Thousand Villages colleagues, attended the Canadian Fair Trade Network 2015 conference. This year’s theme was ‘Engage,’ and the aforementioned banana costume was just one of many highlights from this annual event.

 

 

 

spin_rice_thumb“It’s virtually impossible to grasp … the challenges these people surmount to get a rice crop planted, harvested, and brought to market,” says Stacey Toews, Co-Founder & Communications Catalyst at Level Ground Trading, one of Ten Thousand Villages’ long-term partners.

UNESCO declared the Philippine Rice Terraces a World Heritage Site in 1995 within the “living cultural landscape” category. People of the Ifugao ethnic group have occupied and grown rice on these terraces for more than 2,000 years.

P1060049There are many inspirational stories of individuals, groups and organizations tirelessly working for a better world, and for the fair and equitable treatment of all people. The world is riddled with challenges, but we can help to change things for the better by the actions we take every day.

A compelling quote by Jacques Diouf inspired and challenged me to reassess how I want to contribute to a more just world: “Hunger is not an issue of charity. It is an issue of justice.” It’s about the choices we make on a daily basis and the positive or negative effects they have on other human beings, the planet and other living creatures.

Soccer BallThis coming Sunday is Father’s Day, and I’m feeling a little sentimental.

I don’t generally get excited about holidays – but for some reason, this year feels different.

My father has been experiencing some health issues, so I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on the many happy memories I have of my childhood. For example, when the Toronto Blue Jays made it to the World Series, he was that Dad who bought the maximum number of tickets you were allowed to purchase. My sister and I invited a bunch of our friends to join us for a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I’ll never forget.

Level Ground Tea GardenMany people are unaware that a commitment to sustainability is built right into the World Fair Trade Organization’s 10 Principles of Fair Trade.

Principle #10, “Respect for the Environment,” includes the following thoughts:

Organizations which produce Fair Trade products maximize the use of raw materials from sustainably managed sources in their ranges, buying locally when possible. They use production technologies that seek to reduce energy consumption and where possible use renewable energy technologies that minimize greenhouse gas emissions. They seek to minimize the impact of their waste stream on the environment. Fair Trade agricultural commodity producers minimize their environmental impacts, by using organic or low pesticide use production methods wherever possible.