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A Fair Trade Summer

A Fair Trade Summer

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Fair Trade Clothing: The Fast Fashion Antidote–Earth Day 2014

Fast fashion–the burgeoning trend of quickly and cheaply moving clothing from the catwalk to consumer to capitalize on current fashion trends.  Companies using this approach promote it as fast, low priced, and disposable.  Opponents point to its shoddy workmanship and its polluting effects from production and the decay of the tossed-aside synthetic fabrics.

Source: http://kennedylive.wordpress.com/2014/03/11/

Fair trade fashion, the polar opposite, promotes natural and organic raw materials, environmentally safe production methods, and non-toxic dyes.  Products aren’t churned out in faceless factories, but in small workshops and co-operatives where handcrafted artistry and attention to detail are the underpinnings of its approach. Continue Reading »

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Fair Trade Rethinks Earth’s Baggage–Earth Day 2014

#3 in a series about fair trade and the environment in celebration of Earth Day 2014.

fair trade handbags, purses made from recycled plastic bags

Low-caste Indian women collect used plastic bags for purses.

Did you know that:

• About 1 million plastic bags are used every minute.
• A single plastic bag can take up to 1,000 years to degrade.
• More than 3.5 million tons of plastic bags, sacks and wraps were discarded in 2008.
• Plastic bags are the second-most common type of ocean refuse, after cigarette butts (2008)
• Plastic bags remain toxic even after they break down.
• Every square mile of ocean has about 46,000 pieces of plastic floating in it.*

Did you also know that fair trade artisans create a handbag completely from used plastic bags?  And that it’s actually quite chic? Continue Reading »

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The Green Economy, Fair Trade, and Women-Earth Day 2014

women in the green economy

Women and the Green Economy (WAGE) is the Earth Day Network’s initiative to bring more women into the decision-making process about our environment. While the focus of WAGE is to increase leadership roles at the top of the green economy, let’s not forget the other end of the economic chain–the women who create “green” products.

Nowhere are women more in the forefront of the green economy than the fair trade jewelry sector.  From taking trash to treasure, preserving rainforests, to using the earth’s natural and renewable bounty, women who make fair trade jewelry have been quietly protecting the earth for decades.  Here are just a few examples:
Continue Reading »

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Why is a Fair Trade Retailer Writing About Earth Day?

Did you know Earth Day was started in 1970 by a U.S. Senator?
Earth Day 1970

A polluted town, circa 1970.

At the time, Americans were guzzling gas in their huge V8 cars, factories were dumping pollutants into waterways and onto the land.  Pollution seemed to be an accepted way of life. Continue Reading »

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“A Month We Should Not Need”

We like to think of January as the month of new beginnings, a month to erase the past year’s troubles and focus on fresh starts.  But for millions of women, men, and children a fresh start is beyond imagination.  They are the victims of human trafficking who, in the words of President Obama, “are bought, sold, beaten, and abused, locked in compelled service and hidden in darkness. They toil in factories and fields; in brothels and sweatshops; at sea, abroad, and at home. They are the victims of … a crime that amounts to modern-day slavery.”

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.  January 11 is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. A Massachusetts newspaper editorial1 calls it a month we should not need.  But reality makes it necessary. It’s a problem of enormous magnitude that deserves not just one month, but a year-round effort to eradicate. Continue Reading »

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NYC First Graders Take Action on Fair Trade & Child Labor

Late last spring, an email crossed my desk that started with this sentence: “We have a class of six and seven year olds who are trying to make a difference in this world.”  It was from a parent at The Manhattan New School, PS 290, a public school in New York City. She was asking for product donations for a fair trade sale the children were holding.

The sale was the culmination of a process started by their teacher, Paula Rogovin, to help raise the social awareness of the children.  I was so intrigued by the idea, I not only sent them a couple of boxes full of fair trade products, I interviewed Paula over the summer to learn more about how the sale came about.

Student flyer for fair trade sale.

Student flyer for fair trade sale.

“It began with the students wanting to know how cupcakes are made for restaurants,” she explained.  Continue Reading »

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