Archive for the ‘fair trade’ Category

support fair trade to help end poverty

October 15, 2008

Another way to help people in impoverished places is to support fair trade practices.

According to the Fair Trade Federation:

Fair trade is a system of exchange that seeks to create greater equity and partnership in the international trading system by

  • Providing fair wages in the local context,
  • Supporting safe, healthy, and participatory workplaces,
  • Supplying financial and technical support to build capacity,
  • Promoting environmental sustainability,
  • Respecting cultural identity,
  • Offering public accountability and transparency,
  • Building direct and long-term relationships, and
  • Educating consumers.

FTF members foster partnerships with producers, because they know these connections are a highly effective way to help producers help themselves. Fair trade is not about charity. It is a holistic approach to trade and development that aims to alter the ways in which commerce is conducted, so that trade can empower the poorest of the poor. Fair Trade Organizations seek to create sustainable and positive change in developing and developed countries.

October happens to be Fair Trade Month (of course, we should support it year round!). You can purchase fair trade certified goods at the following shops:

sip, sip, aaah

September 25, 2008

There’s something so comforting about a warm, spicy cup of tea on an overcast day. Right now I’m sipping one of my favorites, Red Chai Masala from Organic India. It’s caffeine-free and has rooibos (aka, African red bush) tea, which I’ve read has more antioxidants than green tea.

Organic India has a whole line of Tulsi teas — green, peppermint, honey chamomile, lemon ginger, and more — that all contain Tulsi or holy basil. Tulsi is considered “The Queen of Herbs” in India for its healing properties, like immune system support and stress relief.

Organic India is dedicated to organic and sustainable farming practices and promoting healthy, conscious living. Learn more about their philosphies here.

You can get Tulsi tea here.

The position of human beings will improve to the extent that they behave with humility towards others.

~ Sri Ramana Maharshi

(Oh, I just sipped the last drop. Gonna brew some more!)

world of good (shopping)

September 8, 2008

When I spend my hard-earned dough I’d like to know where it’s going. Who is it benefiting (or harming)? What kinds of resources were used? Is it really worth the price (in terms of labor, effort, materials, etc)?

So in recent years, I’ve become really selective about where I shop. As I’ve said before, I avoid the big box and big name retailers (whenever possible) in favor of local, indie biz. Think Etsy vs Banana Republic, eBay vs Crate and Barrel. Of course there are times when it’s really difficult to completely ignore the big boys, like when you need a paper towel holder or new toilet seat.

Thankfully it’s getting easier and easier to find alternative sources for goods. Like the new responsible marketplace by eBay, World of Good. They’ve got a pretty big range of fair trade and/or eco-friendly stuff, from clothing and jewelry to furniture and toys. What’s really great is that they break it down in terms of the impact your purchase has. They call this a Goodprint and these are the categories: people positive, eco positive, animal friendly, and supports a cause.

It’s feel-good shopping, certified by third parties with their Trustology verification system. Many of their verifiers and sellers have been in the fair trade game for years, including Co-op America and Ten Thousand Villages.

Here’s a random selection of fun things you can get from World of Good:

PeaceKeeper Nail Polish
Proceeds go to people positive charities

Telephone Wire Bracelet
Eco-friendly repurposed wire, benefits South African artisans

Baby Llama Toy
Benefits Peruvian artisans, made with energy conservation in mind

Where does your hard-earned dough go?

bees knees (and elbows, and hands, and…)

July 18, 2008

Before I started paying attention to what was in everything I consume, I would just use lotion that at the very least claimed to be cruelty free. But these days, that’s not enough. Going forth with the motto “better safe than sorry” I eschew products that have any suspicious ingredients — like sodium laureth/laurel sulfate, parabens, petroleum-based glycerin, etc.

There are two products I switch between to keep my skin good and moisturized sans chemicals: Beeceuticals Honey Thyme Lotion and Burt’s Bees Honey and Orange Wax Lotion. Both of them are contained in fully recyclable #2 plastic, and both support bees — a species integral to the production of the world’s food supply. But I do prefer Beeceuticals over Burt’s Bees for a few reasons: better scent, lack of ambiguous “fragrance” ingredient, and texture.

Beeceuticals Honey Thyme Lotion

  • Goes on smoothly, not greasy at all
  • Subtly sweet citrus scent
  • Contains certified organic ingredients
  • Supports fair-trade practices

Burt’s Bees Honey and Orange Wax Lotion

  • Not greasy, but can be a little tacky
  • Neutral honey/orangy scent
  • Leaves skin feeling softly smooth

tea for me

July 15, 2008

It’s been almost 3 years since I “quit” coffee (I might have about 3 cups of decaf in a year when the mood strikes). For some reason, it makes me feel ill, like I’ve taken too many spins on the tilt-a-whirl.

Now that I’m a serious tea drinker, I consume at least 3 cups of the stuff a day. Anything from green to white, ginger to chamomile, rooibos to English breakfast, and the occasional chai latte. And it has to at least be organic, and fair trade if I can find it.

Dragonwell Organic Green Tea
At the office or on the go, I take along a bag of Yogi Tea or Traditional Medicinals and steep it in a ceramic or travel mug. At home, I prefer brewing up a pot of loose leaf in my Bodum pot. (I’m not a fan of the plastic strainer, even though polypropylene has a high melting point, so I’m looking to get a metal replacement.)

Here are some loose leaf teas along with their potential health benefits (according to Teavana):

Drink coffee?
Be sure it’s organic, fair trade, and/or shade grown. Here are some coffee brands that fit the bill:

how i am spoiled

June 30, 2008

After being away for over 2 weeks, I have a greater appreciation of the kind of food I have access to. I live 2 blocks from a weekly farmer’s market where I can get seasonal produce, pasture-raised beef and chicken, humanely raised pork, fresh dairy, good breads, etc. There are countless supermarkets and gourmet shops selling amazing food products. In the parts of NYC that I frequent, organic is just as accessible as conventional. I can go to restaurants that sell local, market ingredients not mystery meat from a mass distributor like Sysco. I don’t have to rely on Wal-Mart for all of my shopping (more on that in a later post).

Being away from this cornucopia is eye-opening. In and around the national parks, from Wyoming to Canada, it was mostly the same menu no matter where we ate. One night we went to a place just north of Yellowstone that served trout. I asked the young waiter if it was caught locally. “Oh I don’t know, it’s from Sysco.” That’s as far as the provenance went, the largest nationwide food distributor. My boyfriend ordered something I wouldn’t go near: chicken fried steak. I’m not sure you could call what was on his plate “steak,” it was indeed mystery meat. Outside of Glacier, 400 miles north, we went to another place and I swear the menu was the same, barring a few personal twists. I wonder if the people living out there think about where their food comes from.

We did find a few exceptions to the homogeneous dining rule. In West Yellowstone, a cute little cafe with some Thai-inspired dishes. Even within Yellowstone itself, wild Alaskan Salmon and locally caught whitefish that’s Marine Stewardship Council certified; plus fair-trade, organic coffee from Green Mountain (which my boyfriend said was delicious). On the way to Glacier, a cute little sandwich shop in a town called Ovando (pop. ~71). In St Mary’s, Montana, a great little cafe with lots of vegetarian options and good local food. In Waterton, Canada, a restaurant we went back to twice just because it was rare to find well-prepared, quality food elsewhere.

While we did find these rare gems — in most cases at the recommendation of park rangers (don’t worry, we won’t mention your names!) — they were few and far between. What I need to keep in mind is that these were seasonal places we visited. The parks aren’t fully functional for most of the year. They get most of their visitors from July to August with some coming in mid-June and September. And I’m sure most folks who live out there don’t eat out that often — if they do I’d hope there are some local hidden gems the tourists don’t know about yet. Somehow, I doubt it.

fair trade organic love

June 6, 2008

Chocolate is love. Am I wrong? I mean, scientists even say so. And has anyone ever read the book or seen the film Chocolat? (hello, Johnny Depp is in it!)

Chocolate is especially great if it has no baggage. When I get the craving, I try to reach for fair trade and organic chocolate — like Green & Black’s.

I just whipped up a batch of dark chocolate cupcakes, using the 70% dark variety of G&B’s. It’s my secret weapon for any chocolate fix. The recipe is at America’s Test Kitchen (you have to sign up for the free newsletter to get it). And don’t forget the dark chocolate butter cream icing. It’s easy to make this whole recipe organic. Just swap out conventional ingredients like flour, sugar, and butter for organic.

You can get Green & Black’s at your local supermarket, specialty store, or on Amazon.
And here are some more fair trade organic chocolates:
Endangered Species