Why Shop Fair Trade: By Sarah Rowland

photo (1)Last week someone asked me about the purse I was carrying.  Instead of brushing her off with a “Thanks, I bought it from Target,” I was able to tell her my bag was from Thailand. I continued to explain that a group of Tsunami survivors made it by hand in order to support not only themselves, but an orphanage as well.  She asked if I had traveled to Thailand to get the bag and I explained that I got it at The Village Experience where I currently intern.   I was really thankful to be able to share more about the importance of fair trade with her.

Fair trade clothing and jewelry are becoming increasingly popular in the United States amongst younger generations. They offer something distinctive over mass-produced products found in stores like H&M or Forever 21. These products aren’t made in a factory by the thousands only to eventually fall apart– they are made by hand, by a person, with a story.

People around the world benefit from fair trade. In order for products to be certified fair trade, the workers must earn fair wages in a safe working environment. The earnings provide food, shelter, education, and proper health care. Earnings are also invested in projects for the community.  Fair trade aids in economic and environmental growth, and helps establish developing countries.

TVE has an exclusive fair trade line called The Opportunity Collection that features products from Kenya and Thailand. Each product is unique and original from the next. The materials, designs, and colors are vibrant, just like the people who construct them. Products from Kenya are crafted by physically and mentally disabled artisans that create beautiful and unique jewelry while advancing valuable life skills. The jewelry is crafted from hammered brass and hand rolled clay beads and come in a variety of colors.  The products from Thailand are hand crafted by artisans who are rebuilding after a catastrophic tsunami in 2004. They create unique bags and wallets that come in an assortment of colors.

Fair trade shopping benefits everyone involved. The shopper is guaranteed a one-of-a-kind product, while the creator is guaranteed a fair wage and a chance at a better life.  So next time you think of shopping for a trendy bracelet or necklace, don’t think of heading to the mall – try a fair trade store. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you find.

Sarah Rowland is a recent Ball State Graduate with a B.A. in Interpersonal Communication and Spanish Minor.