Connecting Stuff You Don’t Want with People Who Want It

The other day when I arrived at work, I found a mysterious box sitting on my desk. On it, this note from my coworker Katina:

Would you like these boots? Never been worn.

Tall brown boots in shoebox

Surprise boots! I giddily tried them on and modeled them for everyone in the department. I also got the origin story from Katina—the boots originally belonged to her cousin’s coworker, who gave them to Katina’s cousin, who gave them to Katina, who gave them to me. Whew!

The convoluted journey of these boots made me think about the ways our unwanted stuff circulates. One man’s trash is truly another man’s treasure (somebody didn’t want these boots! seriously!), but sometimes the path from person-with-stuff to person-who-wants-stuff isn’t easy to find.

My typical practice has been to throw all my unwanted stuff in a bag and take it all to Goodwill. Don’t get me wrong, this is way better than throwing it in the trash. But I’ve caught glimpses of the back rooms of some thrift stores… SO MANY PILES. And have you ever been to a Goodwill outlet? It’s the stuff that didn’t sell at regular Goodwill stores, and they sell it by the POUND. Eeek. The amount of stuff we donate is overwhelming, and when you donate to a thrift store, you’re rolling the dice on whether anyone else will even want it. Oftentimes surplus donations are shipped to developing countries overseas, which on the surface appears charitable but may actually undermine local economies.

Infographic listing ways to connect unwanted stuff with people who want it

With the rise of the sharing economy, I think how we get rid of stuff is going to change a lot in the next 5-10 years, or even sooner. Companies like Lyft and Airbnb demonstrate that people are willing to make personal connections to share cars and homes. Not only are they willing to do it, it’s the cool thing to do! On a smaller scale, I think people are going to become more and more excited about the idea of making personal connections to share their unwanted stuff.

Here are a few ways to connect your unwanted items with people who will be excited to have them. Some of them are more personal than others, but they all offer an extra level of likelihood that your stuff will be used and appreciated:

  • Sell online (eBay, Amazon, Twice, thredUP, Vinted, Poshmark)
  • Exchange in an alternative marketplace like Yerdle or Bondsy
  • Swap with friends, or give to a friend
  • Give away on Freecycle
  • Sell or give away on Craigslist
  • Sell to a store that sells used items (Half Price Books, Disc Replay, etc.)
  • Consignment stores

Admittedly, all of these methods require a little more effort than dropping off a box at Goodwill. You may have to make a trip to the post office or set up an appointment to meet a buyer/recipient. However, knowing a little about where your stuff is going can be incredibly satisfying. Over the summer I gave away some screen printing supplies on Craigslist. The guy I gave them to told me the kit was for his daughter who has been learning the screen printing process and has made some prints in the past. Just hearing those few details made me really excited to give him the supplies, knowing they were going to someone who would be interested in using them.

I have also been the grateful recipient of other people’s junk. A couple of weeks ago I wrote a Facebook post asking where I could find some reclaimed wood for an art project. Within a day I got suggestions of eight different sources, none of which required me to buy wood off the shelf at a lumberyard. I ended up getting wood from two different friends who just had it lying around. It’s amazing what people will provide if you just ask! In the same way, if you just put it out there that you have X item, you never know who might be interested in it!

Indiana wall art made with reclaimed wood

My reclaimed wood art! Also featuring leftover artificial turf from a work project and old Christmas lights.

Will I still shop at and donate to Goodwill and similar stores? Of course. You can’t beat big thrift stores for convenience and variety, and some items may be too small or low-value to be worth the effort of those other channels. But this year I want to make more of an effort to connect the things I don’t want with people who will be excited and happy to have them.

Have you used any of these methods to get rid of stuff you didn’t want? Have you ever made a great connection with someone who really wanted what you were giving away?

My Favorite Ethical Pinners on Pinterest

favorite-ethical-pinners-on-pinterest

I have a confession to make: I am teetering on the brink of a Pinterest addiction. I make a conscious effort not to rely on my phone for constant distraction, but I do find myself checking Pinterest at least 3-4 times most days. Despite its drawbacks, like the fact that it helps exacerbate a culture of aspirational consumerism and feelings of inadequacy, I find it to be both entertaining and helpful for the following reasons:

  1. Even though the majority of items in my feed aren’t ethically made, pinning things I like gives me an idea of what my own personal style is. I can then look for ethical alternatives or DIY projects that would give me a similar look.
  2. There are tons of tutorials for DIY projects, including recycling/upcycling projects and basic sewing tutorials, both of which I am all about right now.
  3. It’s a great source for finding artwork and photography I wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
  4. I like evening gowns, and Pinterest shows them to me!

There are a few pinners I follow in the ethical lifestyle realm who I can always count on for interesting pins. Here are some of my favorites:



Fair Trade Quilts & Crafts – This account was fully responsible for me embracing aspects of bohemian interior design. The gorgeous interiors they pin give me inspiration for creating a home full of eclectic fair trade and secondhand items.

Visit Fair Trade Federation’s profile on Pinterest.

Fair Trade Federation – The FTF uses Pinterest to showcase cool products from their members.

Mata Traders – I frequently find myself re-pinning links to high-quality blog posts about fair trade pinned by Mata Traders.

Visit Elizabeth Stilwell | The Note Passer’s profile on Pinterest.

Elizabeth Stilwell | The Note Passer – I love Elizabeth’s pins that link to blog posts about zero-waste living.

To follow me on Pinterest, hit me up here! Full disclosure: not everything I pin is ethically-made, since as I described above, I use Pinterest to figure out my style, not to make a specific shopping list. My board Fair Trade & Ethical Lifestyle is devoted to ethically-made products and related links. (And if you’re looking for some evening gown eye candy as well, my Wearables board is where it’s at.)

How do you use Pinterest? Who are some of your favorite pinners?

Make It Work: Skinny Dress Pants DIY

I have always been afraid to alter a pair of pants—I always have a vision of me sitting down in public and rrrrrRRRIPP! There go my new seams. But recently I found a tutorial on Pinterest that made me think, “OK, maybe this can work!” (I apparently forgot to pin the tutorial I looked at, but there are a bunch if you search for “skinny pants diy.”)

My subject for this project was a pair of gray dress pants I’ve had in my closet for longer than I can remember. I got overzealous to start the project and forgot to take a before photo, but just imagine the floppiest possible wide-leg dress pants from 2002 that are also 3 inches too long and you’ll have the right idea. The pants have a pattern that I’m not sure how to describe—I’ll call it teeny tiny houndstooth. My goal was to take these floptastic pants and turn them into chic slim-leg pants I could wear to work.

The first step was to turn the pants inside out and mark where I wanted to new seams to be. To do this I took a pair of pants that had a fit similar to what I wanted, turned them inside out as well, and laid them on top of the dress pants. I lined up the outside edges of both pairs of pants and marked about an inch outside of the inner edge.

I forgot to take a photo of the pants lining up as well, so enjoy this fine gif!

 

To mark my seam I used a white art crayon I had leftover from college, but tailor’s chalk or a fabric pencil would be the traditional seam-marking media. One thing to note is that these pants already fit me well in the waist and hips, so I only needed to alter the legs.

After I pinned the pants, I tried them on inside-out to check the fit without messing up the pins. Trying things on when you’re altering them is important! When I had the pants on I realized I needed to continue pinning all the way up to the crotch. (I had originally thought I could end my seam mid-thigh, but it looked totally bunchy and weird.) You never know what you’re not going to realize until the pants are on, so don’t skip this!

Once I had all the pins in place for a good fit, I used my sewing machine to create the new seam. I used a standard straight stitch. First I sewed along the line where I had pinned, then tried the pants on again (this time right side out) to confirm the fit. After that I sewed a second straight seam about a quarter of an inch outside the first seam. This reinforces the seam to prevent that rrrrrRRRIPP! moment.

Two seams about a quarter of an inch apart

Two seams for extra strength!

 

Make sure your second seam is outside the first seam. If you put the second seam on the inside, the pants will suddenly be too tight! After putting in the second seam, I tried the pants on again just in case, then trimmed off the excess fabric.

My pants now had slim legs but were still way too long.

Ankle view of skinny dress pants: still too long!

To fix the length I followed general instructions for hemming a pair of pants. This was my first attempt at hemming, but there are tons of online tutorials and YouTube videos that explain how to do it. Basically you fold up the hem to where you want it, pin it, make sure it’s the same length all the way around, then use a slip stitch (also known as a blind stitch) to hand-sew the new hem.

Pinned hem of dress pants

The whole project took maybe 4-5 hours spread over two days. As usual for me, much of that time was spent re-pinning. Once you start actually sewing, you’re in the home stretch!

Here’s the finished product:

Finished dress pants front view

Finished dress pants side view

I’m jazzed about how these turned out. Before when I wore these pants I felt like I was 15 years old and had come straight out of the juniors department. Now they’re modern and work appropriate!

Have you ever been brave enough to alter a pair of pants? After the success of this project I’d definitely be willing to try it again.

New Year, New Name

As the ethical consumerism movement has grown and evolved over the last year, we started thinking about the name of this site: the Fair for All Shopping Guide. We’re entering a landscape where there are many more ethical shopping options than there were even five years ago, but it’s also a landscape where some brands are beginning to engage in “ethical-washing” to appear more socially responsible (the same way that many brands now engage in “greenwashing” to appear more eco-friendly). Even the purchase of an ethically-made item has implications on overconsumption, natural resource use, and a range of other issues.

We realized it’s important to avoid giving the message that shopping can be the solution to the world’s problems. Shopping differently can make a real positive impact, but it’s not everything. As such, we have decided to remove the word “shopping” from the Fair for All Shopping Guide name. We are now simply the Fair for All Guide.

Our name is now the "Fair for All Guide"

Does the name change mean our content is changing? Yes and no. We still plan to cover fairly made products and ethical brands, because we do truly believe in the power of individual purchases to make a difference. However we will also explore other ethical lifestyle topics that are not related to shopping, like living with less, upcycling, reducing waste, etc.

We’re excited about this change and hope you are too! Conveniently, our URL and Facebook and Twitter handles remain the same. Let us know if there are any topics you’d like to see us cover this year!

Thank You & Year-End Roundup

2014 is on its way out the door, so I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who has read and participated in the blog this year. We aim to help people understand the impacts of their purchases and promote justice, fairness and prosperity for all. Every comment and like and pageview means a lot to us because it means word is getting out and we’re one step closer to making that fairer world a reality.

We appreciate you and look forward to bringing you more in 2015! If there are any particular topics you’d like see covered or questions you’d like to have answered, please contact us—we want to help!

I can no other answer make but thanks. Shakespeare

Year-End Roundup

Since we haven’t done a roundup post in a while I wanted to end the year with a few thought-provoking links I’ve been saving up.

1. Uzbekistan Cotton Campaign – Forced labor in Uzbekistan continues, pulling over a million children, teachers, public servants and employees of private businesses to harvest cotton in often hazardous conditions. This website summarizes the situation and provides actions for governments, companies and citizens to take to put an end to this state-mandated labor. The Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights also has thorough documentation of the issue, including the Cotton Chronicle, which describes specific incidents in the fields.

2. Pollution from synthetic microfibers – Thousands of microfibers can wear off a synthetic garment in the wash and end up in the environment. This article describes one scientist’s work to research the impact of these fibers and solutions to minimize fiber runoff.

3. The truth about organic cotton – This blog post methodically breaks down the requirements of organic cotton certification and debunks some misconceptions, such as that organic cotton uses less water (it doesn’t). I really appreciated the scientific approach of this article. The author gets beyond the buzzwords so many brands use and shares real data.

We’ve come a long way this year but there’s still more work to do. Thanks for coming along with us!

Buy Less, Live More

In the final days before Christmas, I wanted to share this fun and thoughtful campaign from the Story of Stuff Project.

Buy Less, Live More: Play, Bike, Share, Knit

The Story of Stuff Project started several years ago with an animated online video that showed the journey of the stuff we buy from its production to its eventual death in a landfill. Since then the organization has expanded its scope to address issues issues ranging from overconsumption to corruption to the environment. This December they have a campaign called Buy Less, Live More, which asks individuals to share photos showing what they have time to do when they’re not shopping.

Buy less, live more poster

I submitted a photo but it wasn’t approved by the time I posted this, which is actually OK because it’s a bit of a spoiler for a DIY post I’ll be doing in January. This year I finished up my Christmas shopping on a Friday, which left Saturday open for yoga class, biking AND running (it was definitely my most fit day of the year), and working on that DIY project. It was an incredibly satisfying day! Admittedly, I did get mostly store-bought gifts for the people on my list, but I did make one gift and tried to support ethical and local businesses for the others.

buy-less-give-more-poster-2

I like this campaign as a simple and fun way to remember that shopping and gifts are not the point of this time of year, and a thoughtful gift doesn’t have to be a store-bought one.

Have a warm and happy holiday from us at the Fair for All Guide!

Meet an Ethical Blogger: Jessica

I’m excited to introduce you to Jessica, author of the blog Notes From A Thoughtful Life! Jessica does an amazing job of providing practical tips that make ethical shopping a realistic pursuit, not just an idealistic dream.

Notes From A Thoughtful Life title image

Fair for All: Describe the focus of your blog.

Jessica: Notes From A Thoughtful Life is a blog about embracing our everyday normal life and making it count. I love that quote by mother Teresa that says “live simply so that others may simply live”. The idea that what we do, how we live, is important and that we can use it to bring life to others is something I love. So I write about fair trade, living thoughtfully and really, just grace, because I am still learning how to live what I write about!

Why do you choose to write about these topics? What motivates you to pursue an ethical lifestyle?

I first learned about sweatshops and unethical labor in the clothing industry years ago and slowly started changing some of my buying habits since then but honestly, I had a hard time knowing where to start. The more I learned the more I changed and the more I realized that if I was having a difficult time figuring out where to start, then maybe others were too. That inspired me to write the blog, especially The Ethical List, a list I keep of all the fair and ethical companies I have discovered. Knowing that the clothes and other things I buy, like coffee and such, is made by people who are paid fairly is really enough motivation in an of itself!

How we live is important and we can use it to bring life to others.

What makes a product or company ethical to you? When you’re making a purchase or deciding what to write about, what principles or criteria guide your decision?

When I shop online I almost always read the company’s about page and find out what I can about their sourcing policies. It’s important to me that companies are clear and honest about how they create and source their products. I also Google them with “sweatshop” or “labor violations” in the search terms to see if they actually do what they say they do. I buy secondhand and used whenever possible. Most importantly, I try not to be too hardcore and strict about ethical guidelines because in reality I know I won’t be able to always buy fair trade or thrift but I do want to make the best decision I can based on my options. If you can’t afford or find a fair and ethical product, second best is okay too. Target and a few other major companies, while not winning any awards, are at least attempting to maintain a more ethical supply chain.

What are your top 3 favorite ethical shopping brands or websites?

Oh my gosh, so many good ones!  Everlane, for their reasonably priced and super comfy tees. Ten Thousand Villages, because they are the first fair trade store I ever shopped at way back when I was a little girl. I still love that store. And  I have many things from that store, even from when I was a little girl. And Shea Moisture, for having some of the best smelling ethically-sourced bar soap ever.

Here are some recent posts from Notes From A Thoughtful Life:

For more ethical blog recommendations, check out the rest of our Meet an Ethical Blogger series or visit the Resources page.

Hey, Dude: Ethical Clothing for Men

A male friend recently commented on the lack of resources for men on Fair for All. While the site is definitely geared toward women, I realized it has been quite a while since we’ve posted a guide about ethical gifts for dudes. Plus we certainly don’t want to exclude any men who may be checking us out as well. (Welcome, gentlemen!)

So whether you’re a lady buying for a gent, or a gent looking to get into the ethical shopping game, I present a compendium of ethical clothing options for men!

Ethical Men's Clothing dress clothes

*Sites marked with a star offer products for women as well.

Zady*

Shown above: Navy Moriera Pullover (1)

  • Offerings: Shirts and pants for the office and the weekend, plus jackets and accessories.
  • Ethics: Zady’s overall missions is to offer products with solid construction, the best materials, the lowest environmental footprint, the highest labor standards and timeless style. Products fall into one of several categories such as handmade, made in USA, and sustainable.
  • Price point: Products are on the pricier side—they’re investment pieces built to last.
  • Bonus: Free shipping and returns on any size order.

Apolis

Shown above: Washed Gingham Broadcloth Button Down (2)

  • Offerings: Shirts and pants for the office and the weekend, plus jackets, accessories, shoes and even swim trunks.
  • Ethics: B Corporation. Their mission is “advocacy through industry.”
  • Price point: Products are on the pricier side—they’re investment pieces built to last.

Bluff Works

Shown above: Bluff Works pants in Velvet Brown (3)

  • Offerings: Slacks
  • Ethics: Manufactured in NYC from imported wrinkle-resistant polyester designed to require minimal washing and no ironing, resulting in a lower environmental impact.
  • Price point: Accessible pricing.
  • Bonus: Available in one-inch size increments and multiple inseams for a perfect fit.

Accompany*

Shown above: Canchito Leather Wallet (4)

  • Offerings: Shirts and pants for the office and the weekend, plus shorts, sweaters, sweatshirts, and accessories.
  • Ethics: Accompany seeks to alter the systems that perpetuate poverty around the world. All products fall are artisan-made, fair trade, or benefit a philanthropic mission.
  • Price point: Products are on the pricier side—they’re investment pieces built to last.

Modavanti*

Shown above: William Brown Shoe (5)

  • Offerings: Shirts and pants for the office and the weekend, plus outerwear, accessories and shoes.
  • Ethics: Filter by values you care about such as fair trade, made in USA, and environmental impact.
  • Price point: Wide range of prices from everyday affordable to investment pieces.

 

Ethical Men's Clothing casual clothing

Appalatch*

Shown above: Shawl Collar Sweater (1)

  • Offerings: Shirts and sweaters
  • Ethics: Made 100% in USA from raw materials to finished piece
  • Price point: Products are on the pricier side—they’re investment pieces built to last.

Fair Indigo*

Shown above: Midweight Fair Trade Organic Crew Neck T-shirt (2)

  • Offerings: Casual shirts, sweaters, accessories.
  • Ethics: Products are fair trade or made in the USA.
  • Price point: Accessible.

Flint & Tinder*

Shown above: Raw Selvedge Slim Jeans (3)

  • Offerings: Shirts and pants for the office and the weekend, plus accessories, underwear, and a hoodie that is guaranteed to last for 10 years.
  • Ethics: All products are made in the USA and built to last.
  • Price point: Ranges between accessible and investment pieces. Currently running a big sale with major discounts on select items.

American Apparel*

Shown above: Unisex Tennis Shoe in Cordoban (4)

  • Offerings: Shirts and pants for the office and the weekend, plus shorts, sweaters, sweatshirts, swimwear, underwear, shoes, accessories.
  • Ethics: Made in the USA, sweatshop-free. American Apparel also takes steps to minimize their environmental impact and their operation is virtually landfill-free.
  • Price point: Moderately accessible prices.

PACT*

Shown above: Men’s Everyday White Socks (5)

  • Offerings: Tees, underwear, socks, and hoodies made primarily of organic cotton.
  • Ethics: Many products are made in a Fair Trade Certified factory. B Corporation.
  • Price point: Very accessible prices.

For more ethical shopping sources for men, check out these previous posts (the resources listed are good for general shopping too, not just dads and weddings):

Let us know if you’d like to see more resources for men in the future!

Get to Know Las Casas, Guatemalan Fair Trade

Las Casas table at the Manthan International Market

This summer I attended the Manthan International Market in downtown Indianapolis with the intent of sampling tasty foods of the world. Imagine my excitement when there turned out to be several fair trade vendors there as well! I was especially excited to meet David Durica of Las Casas, a vendor I’d never heard of before. I learned that Las Casas is fairly new to the Indianapolis fair trade scene and focuses specifically on sharing the beautiful culture of Guatemala.

I invited David to share more about Las Casas and the work they are doing in Guatemala and in the local Indy area.

Fair for All: Tell us about how Las Casas started.
Las Casas: My wife, Jenny, and I lived in Guatemala for a year, and while there we developed a deep respect for Guatemala’s people and culture. Towards the end of our time, we started brainstorming ways to sustain our relationships and maintain our commitment to the people long-term. After experiencing the struggles and issues throughout Guatemala – which include: lack of education and jobs, malnutrition, and a tragic history of oppression – we began identifying the existing strengths and skills among the people. We saw that the artisans were doing amazing work but they needed access to outside markets and fair wages. The need for Fair Trade was identified by realizing that if people matter, then the way we trade should matter.

Guatemalan artisan with table of jewelry

Describe your mission.
As a social enterprise, we seek to display cultural beauty, pursue fairness, and advocate for truth and reconciliation. We believe Fair Trade is a reconciled way of living for us as consumers. We view Las Casas as both a journey and a destination, a means and an end. The journey aspect is tangible by supporting fair trade and advocating alongside the indigenous artisans. This part of the mission puts fair trade merchandise into the hands of consumers. The destination is why we take part in the journey, which involves an intangible mission to reconcile trade by valuing people over product. Altogether, we hope to build a bridge with artisans living in a completely different reality.

What is it about Guatemala that makes that country so special to you?
We’ve always been drawn to Guatemala ever since our first short-term missions trip there in 2007. The country is vibrant with rich, cultural traditions and indigenous Mayan people who inspire us with their work ethic, commitment to family, and generous hospitality. More so than we’d experienced elsewhere, the indigenous population strive to maintain their ancient way of life, including their art of back-strap weaving, which is such a testament to their values.

During our time living there in 2011, we couldn’t help but get to know local artisans. We had nothing but respect for the work that they do, and were impassioned to co-develop an avenue of support with them, their families, and their community. Thus, we started this Fair Trade venture.

Guatemalan artisan weaving

The product that caught my eye the most at your booth at the market was the Guatop shoes. They are completely rad. Can you tell us more about how the design of the Guatops came to be, how they are made, and where people can get them?
You can’t miss the GuaTops, right?! These shoes are made of authentic indigenous patterns from Mayan villages throughout Guatemala. The textiles are back-strap woven, then hand-stitched into a pre-cut pattern to form the shoe. The fabric is then complemented by genuine leather, which is sourced from the coast of Guatemala.

Pretty unique, right? But we’re actually still in development of our GuaTops. Everything we’ve offered thus far was beta testing and samples. Because of the handmade dynamic, it’s been difficult to offer GuaTops anywhere other than in person, which is mostly at events in the Indianapolis area. We post some pictures of the shoes online, but don’t actually sell them online yet. The best way to get a pair would be to email us your general size and we can send you some pictures of our available inventory that would be in your approximate range. Then we’d connect somewhere so you can try them on!

GuaTops shoe

What’s your favorite product that you offer, or a new product you are excited about?
Part of our mission is to support a variety of indigenous artisan groups. With that being said, the groups and individuals we’re supporting come from varying levels. Some are paralyzed by poverty, so our work with them focuses on product development, creating savings, and long-term vision to lift their families out of poverty. Other groups are well equipped and have quarterly development workshops on their own.

So based on that, our newest excitement comes from a grassroots cooperative in Nahuala (a very rural village). Previously they were only making raw fabrics, so they’re brand new to the world of finished goods. Exclusively for Las Casas, they’re now making Snap Bags. These handy textile pouches feature a clasp made from a measuring tape…it naturally snaps back into place. We’re very inspired by their initiative and ability to develop concepts and product ideas.

Guatemalan artisans with Las Casas snap bags

Are your products available in any physical stores/locations, or just online?
Primarily, our products are sold at local events (farmer’s markets, craft shows, and festivals). We also list limited-inventory on our website with an online store. Throughout different times of the year we’ll also host house parties in central Indiana, offering hosts 50% off as our appreciation for the support to expand our market.

We’re developing a plan to open our own storefront. We project to be situated with a Grand Opening in 1-2 years.

Are you members of any fair trade organizations or certifications?
Las Casas is not certified through any fair trade organizations. However, half of the cooperatives we’re supporting have their own fair trade certification. The other half that we support represent family owned businesses or individuals that are not formally certified, nor have they had the resources to do so at this time…which is exactly why we’re working with them: to empower them and provide opportunities for development, such as certification.

What’s next for Las Casas?
We’re extremely excited for our brand new project called #BeReconciled. We were awarded our first-ever Community Action Grant in November 2014 to implement a local project in Indianapolis that will facilitate dialogue in diverse community settings resulting in a public art installation.

#BeReconciled title image

As we gear up for #BeReconciled, we’re also launching an Indiegogo campaign to fundraise support with the goal of opening the storefront venue where we’ll offer Las Casas fair trade retail merchandise alongside the #BeReconciled Art Gallery. Once this storefront is secured, we’ll build towards plans to introduce the third and final component to the business, a small Guatemalan café. Check out more details on “what’s next” on our campaign page.

Thanks to David for sharing the Las Casas story!

Ethical Holiday Shopping Sources

Holiday shopping season snuck up on me more than usual this year. In the past I’ve been a proactive early shopper, but this year I feel like my mind had barely left Halloweentown when boom! It’s late November and I have exactly zero gifts!

Are you in the same boat as me? Never fear! We’ve still got a month, and there are plenty of ethical retailers with great selections of gifts for everyone on your list. Here are some resources to get you started:

Fair Trade Federation Holiday Guide 2014 cover

Fair Trade Federation Holiday Gift Guide 2014

This online catalog features gifts from a plethora of Fair Trade Federation members. Click the link button on anything that catches your eye to be taken directly to the page on the seller’s site where you can buy it.
 
Fair Tuesday - December 2, 2014

Fair Tuesday

Fair Tuesday is an ethical shopping movement in response to Black Friday and Cyber Monday to feature fair trade, ethical, and eco-friendly brands. Visit the Buy/Shop section of the Fair Tuesday website for a directory of participating retailers, many of whom are offering significant discount codes—I spot checked a few and saw numbers like 20% off, 25% off, 30% off… Definitely check here if you like the thrill of a deal!
 

SERRV fall 2014 catalog cover

SERRV

One of my favorite places to look for fair trade gifts. I love their handy collections like Gifts for Him, Gift BasketsGifts Under $30 and more.
 

Ten Thousand Villages holiday gift finder

Ten Thousand Villages

Another fair trade site with a huge variety of gifts. Use their Gift Finder to find just the right thing for friends, teachers, coworkers, kids and more. They also have an option to filter by price point, so you can find gifts that fit your budget.
 

If you’re local to central Indiana or Columbus, OH, I highly recommend making Global Gifts a stop on your holiday shopping circuit. Not only is it a more pleasant shopping environment than a crowded, noisy mall (free coffee samples, anyone?), but you’re bound to find great gifts, stocking stuffers, or even holiday decorations for your own home. And all of their items are made by artisans who are treated fairly.

In this season of giving, your gift choices have the power to improve the lives of disadvantaged people around the world. You may be in the habit of making charitable donations this time of year, but you can also help end poverty by supporting fair trade. As a system that provides market access and equitable business relationships, fair trade enables artisans to earn a sustainable income to support themselves and their families, reducing dependence on charitable aid. That’s a happy holiday for everyone involved.