Yesterday I visited the Ten Thousand Villages store near us to buy a wedding present. I was impressed with the rich array of goods available from this wonderful store in which everything is fair traded – from the beautiful plant pots (obviously one of my weaknesses as I am a keen gardener) to the scarves and hand made garments. That started me thinking about the fact that many of the malls and super stores already have Christmas goods out. I know it is still a long time till Christmas but I don’t think it is too early to start strategizing about how to make this a Christmas that doesn’t just benefit us but also benefits those we buy from.
Tom & I are Christmas people as are many of my friends. Maybe it just means that we are too much in the grip of consumerism, but we do love to celebrate and buying gifts does seem to be part of celebration. This does mean that buying no Christmas gifts (or gifts at any time of the year) is just not an option. We are considering going completely fair trade this year and Ten Thousand Villages is obviously a wonderful place to start. However going fair trade does mean goods are more expensive – which just goes to prove that many artisans and crafts people do not receive a living wage for their efforts. That means of course that we may need to buy less gifts, which probably means they will be more treasured by the recipients. And it might also mean that the artisans whose goods we purchase are able to have a happy and abundant Christmas too.
So what is fair trade? Fair Trade is an alternative approach to conventional international trade. It is a trading partnership which aims at sustainable development for excluded and disadvantaged producers. It provides better trading conditions, by awareness raising and campaigning.
Many of us are aware of fair trade coffee but that is often as far as our knowledge goes. There are a growing number of fair trade stores around the world however. If you are interested The Fair Trade Foundation is a good place to start. Or you may like to investigate Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International. Both of these organizations can put you in touch with the broader discussions about fair trade and the organizations in your country that participate. So lay some foundations for a different and good Christmas this year and let me know both what you do and what you think about this.