I have these shoes I REALLY LOVE. They are a little funky (which, let’s be honest, I like) but they are incredibly comfortable. It’s like walking on bare feet, but better. I found these cute shoes through one of those annoying Instagram ads that pop up while I do my hourly scroll through my feed full of weddings, graduations, birthdays and babies. I clicked on the ad and discovered that my dream shoes were only $7 with a $5 shipping fee. Always up for a bargain, and at times an impulse shopper, I quickly pulled out my credit card and placed the order. About 3 weeks later they arrived tightly wrapped in plastic from China…. And I thought CRAP… $7 leather shoes from a country that doesn’t monitor working conditions or wages.. NOT GOOD.
I, of course, rationalized the fact that I couldn't return them. So I put the shoes on and loved them. Don’t worry though. In my altruism I vowed not to buy them again for fear of possibly supporting a company that mistreats its employees, or worse, is engaged in modern day slavery— or maybe that is the same thing. Even when people asked me where I got them, I would suggest they not purchase them because I suspected it was not a fair trade company. Now here is my CONFESSION…. once I wore out my first pair I bought a second pair and a third.
So then last week my sister sent me this great podcast...
The Marie Forleo Podcast called “How To End Poverty.”
The fact that this was a statement and not a question intrigued me. For anyone working in the non-profit humanitarian world this monster of a question feels impossible to answer. Is seems like every attempt to end suffering has led to further destruction. What she shared was nothing new. It is the idea that people are designed to work, be productive and make a contribution to the world around them. This human right has eluded us for, well, maybe forever thanks to corrupt governments, unconstrained capitalism, war and misguided acts of charity. She reminded me that, though the mountain we call poverty seems insurmountable, I can be part of the solution by just taking one step —- being thoughtful to purchase Fair Trade items wherever possible.
Fair Trade is trade in which fair prices are paid to producers in developing countries. We often think of Fair Trade when it comes to coffee — if at all….. Well, maybe that is just me. But there are other things that can be purchased through Fair Trade like SHOES, clothing, bananas, coconut, beauty products, and so much more.
After listening to this podcast I was inspired and running out of my facial skincare product. I thought, “This is my opportunity! I will find a new skin care line that is certified Fair Trade!” And… guess what? It's incredibly hard to find. I began my search online. I figured if it can be found anywhere it would be online. So I began looking from site to site to determine which brands were Fair Trade. And, let me just tell you, there aren’t very many. Ulta advertised cruelty free products so I went to the store. The first sales woman was sweet but had never heard of Fair Trade. So she took me to her manager who apologized saying the cruelty free items just applied to the companies who were committed to not harming animals and they didn’t carry Fair Trade skin care. I then decided to go to Whole Foods. I figured if any store would have socially thoughtful products it would be them. There I met another very helpful sales person who helped me search the shelves for the only two products they carry — CocoKind’s moisturizer and and eye cream. (Side note - both of these products are great.)
Socially conscious shopping is hard and imperfect, not to mention expensive. However, it is my hope that if those of us who want to see an end to poverty begin to purchase items thoughtfully we may just begin to see a decline in global poverty.
Amazon Shopper? Click here to start making easy Fair Trade Shopping today.