Fair Trade isn’t synonymous with trippy hippy…
Posted on November 2, 2010 by Fair Trade Town: Seattle
I think we all know that Seattle is a major foodie city. From delicious seafood to chasing down those infamous food trucks (Marination Mobile, Skillet…), Seattle is on point when it comes to food. Since we got the food down, let’s get this fair trade campaign on already, right? Seattle is supposed to be a progressive city, no? Am I wrong? I may be a new transplant in Seattle from the East Coast, so I could be wrong. Who knows…
So, today, I stopped by Trophy Cupcakes (which I must say is comparable and even better than the DC craze, Georgetown Cupcakes) and you’re probably wondering why this post is sounding more like a food blog entry. Trust me, I have a point. While I handed the girl at the register my plastic, I looked into the bin of colorful keychains like I always do (and yes, maybe I visit Trophy often, but that’s besides the point).
The keychains are little fabric monsters or creatures with cute button eyes and crazy facial expressions. They are colorful and pretty cute. Only today did I take a keychain out and read the tag–”Blabbos. Handmade. Fair Trade. Fun.” You don’t have to go to an incense perfumed store with dangling doilies and all sorts of panic inducing disarray to find fair trade goods. Sometimes, you just look down at the counter in a neighborhood lovely like Trophy Cupcakes, and find a little surprise of fair trade goodness staring back at you. The business take away from this post should be that you can carry even one item that you think fits in with your image and at the same time support a great cause.
Rewind! Did that say Fair Trade? Yes, it did! The keychains are made by the company Kamibashi (paper bridge in Japanese). Kamibashi was started by a husband and wife team whose teaching careers exposed them to young Asian artists which led the couple to change their careers to working with these artists. The couple works directly with the Kooninthong family in Thailand for the creation of the keychains as well as with the DEBO Art Cooperative for another line of keychains. For more information on the keychains or the company, visit them at the following link:
And I also think the tag reads fun too. And why shouldn’t Fair Trade be synonymous with fun? The whole point of the FTS campaign to make Seattle a fair trade city isn’t to condescendingly preach the importance of purchasing products from businesses who align themselves with just and humane practices. I think the purpose of the campaign is to further educate the average consumer on how to better evaluate their decisions and as a result, giving him/her more power.
Let’s get into the holiday mode of thinking since Thanksgiving is around the corner and I know all of you will be starting that dash to complete your holiday shopping for loved ones. When you shop, do you just grab and pick whatever you think will be appropriate? If your son says “I want a pair of running shoes”, do you go to the store and just grab a pair? Of course not! You may potentially visit a couple stores, compare prices and brands, and ultimately go for the buy with the best quality and value, right? Or even if he is more descriptive and says, “Nike running shoes,” you will still compare within the brand.
And let’s throw in another fact…Nike + sweatshops, need I say more? Did you also know that angry students from colleges started a anti-sweatshop movement against Nike, demanding that Nike adopt better work conditions? Nike has been pulling its private donations and athletic licensing from schools moving away from the FLA (Fair Labor Association) and towards the WRC (Worker’s Right Consortium). The war here is between the student-led WRC (Workers’ Right Consortium) and the industry-dominated, FLA.
Nike labels itself as a leader in cleaning up workshop conditions, but you be the judge of that. Why so touchy on the subject of sweatshops if they were indeed eliminating them? Why pull donations and merchandising from colleges? I don’t know…I’m not here to judge.
Do you think differently about Nike products now? I mean, again, FTS isn’t trying to brainwash you and say, “let’s boycott everyone who doesn’t do fair trade!” That’s not the point. Our mission is to provide you with more information so you can make informed decisions. Whether you follow the business practices and policies surrounding Nike or other companies is irrelevant.
At the end of the day, do you want to make a complacent purchasing decision because you are limited in the scope and breadth to which you see the implications of the buy? It doesn’t hurt to know more, right? Education is the key to all problems or is that mantra something we only preach to kids?
When did you decide that you didn’t have power any more? Or when will you give up your power? FTS is here to make sure you always remember you, the consumer, has the power. Regardless of whether you still decide to purchase Nike or not, we only want you to have all the information in your arsenal to help make a more well-rounded purchasing decision. And if from what you learn, you don’t like certain companies or their current production practices, then by all means, feel empowered. Join the cause to make a difference.
And I know I mentioned that fair trade should by synonymous with fun and everything probably didn’t sound fun up until now, but I say it’s all relative. To me, getting energized and mobilizing with other passionate people to ignite a cause couldn’t be anything other than fun. If that’s not fun to you, well…since the holiday season is coming up, I invite you to explore your options and check out some fair trade fare. Shopping is always fun, right? If anything, let’s take away that message (fair trade holiday shopping) from this post…for now.
Maybe, Seattle is still far from adopting a fair trade culture…but I can’t help but feel the calm before the storm. I sense that with the right strategy, FTS can generate a lot of momentum and enthusiasm. Won’t you join us and be part of the storm of change?