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Tag Archives: fair trade

Easter Traffic

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Two of my old posts always get loads of traffic around Easter:

Natural dyes for eggs


Cadbury Eggs

Update:  it looks like Cadbury Eggs in the US are still slave-made.  What can we do??  Global Exchange has some great ideas including a printable coloring page for children to mail to Hershey.  I’m considering throwing together a screening of The Dark Side of Chocolate to share in my community before Easter.  We’ll see if I can pull that off.  What will YOU do?

Repost–Mindful Gift Ideas

A repost from last Christmas.  Let me add the Global Girlfriend as my new favorite site.  Yumminess.   

It is a slippery slope when one begins questioning the origins of products.  I find myself wondering if the chocolate my child is munching was made with beans harvested by enslaved children.  Or if the Mossimo pants that look so comfortable were sewn by abused women.  Ok, ok, I know this post is supposed to be about gift-giving!  I’m getting there.  We all know the holiday consumerism is out of control.  Nothing is as antithetical to the spirit of giving than a gift that originated in injustice. 

This holiday season, could you incorporate fairly-traded products into your gift-giving?  Even if you substitute three department store purchases with fairly traded items, you will be giving back to our global community.  Or better yet, give a donation straight to the global community in your gift recipient’s name.  Now, let me tempt you with some ideas that I found easily available online.   

Cambodian Rice Bag:  Fairly traded and made from recycled rice bags. Most bags are under 20.00. 

Reusable Lunch Tote:  Fairly traded and includes reusable utensils made from recycled buffalo horn. 

 Ceramic Dragonfly Flute:  Handmade in Nicaragua by Potters for Peace.

Fancy Chocolate:  You can be sure that this vegan dark chocolate is not only gluten-free; it is also slave-free.

Yummy Coffee:  Available locally to those of you in the Greenville area, this coffee is sustainably and ethically grown. 

Recycled Tire Tie:  Spice up the tired out gift of a boring old tie (pun intended, of course).

Olive Wood Salad Servers:  Fairly traded and gorgeous.  Free shipping included for under 30.00!

Dancing Girls Mobile:  Made by the Teenage Mothers and Girls Association of Kenya from recycled can, wire, and beads.

Babywearing Doll:  Handmade in Peru by a non-profit organization called Inca Kids.  A handmade gift for under 20.00. 

 Soccer Ball:  20% of this fair-trade purchase goes back to the Pakistan community.

Hostess Gifts:  gifts from SERRV under 10.00.  I love the jackfruit cricket.  Maybe a stocking stuffer?

Puzzle Box:  this elegant gift might be a good choice for your boss, teacher, or pastor.

Mayan Coloring Book:  maybe pair this with some of these recycled crayons?

Once you’ve found that perfect gift, consider sustainable packaging options:

  • If shipping, pack with popcorn instead of styro-peanuts or plastic bubbles! Include a note that the unsalted popcorn can be tossed in the recipient’s backyard for the birds to enjoy.
  • Box up your gifts in seeded packaging.  These boxes are made with wildflower seeds and can be planted for a gift that lasts.  You can even send seeded holiday cards that can be planted!
  • Skip wrapping paper and use fabric scraps, newspaper, old maps, or reuse gift bags.   Kitchen towels, organic baby blankets, or fair-trade scarf make excellent wraps. 
  • Wrap the gift in a reusable sandwich bag or larger gifts in a resuable shopping bag. 
  • Try wrapping gifts without tape (which is usually petroleum-based).  Use twine or yarn and creative folds to keep your gift bound.
  • Instead of a bow, use pinecones, holly, or even a CFL bulb.

How do you incorporate green or ethical choices into your holidays?

A Vent, Purely a Vent

This story begins with a dead ipod.  I had a wonderful Rob Bell sermon podcast I planned to listen to on my drive last night to a prenatal appointment.  Instead, I found my ipod was dead.  No battery power remaining.  Shoot.   

A nice phone conversation with my sister got me to the prenatal, but coming home I had to resort to the radio.  I flipped through channels to catch the end of Focus on the Family with Dr. James Dobson.  He was railing about retailers who do not display Christmas decorations or wish customers a “Merry Christmas.”  Well folks, when Jim Dobson is riled up about something, he must do something .  Usually the result is a ban or a petition.  So Focus on the Family has created “Stand for Christmas” a website on which shoppers can report naughty stores and sign a petition.  Naughty stores wish customers a “Happy Holiday” or put up other holiday signs to honor Kwanzaa or Hanukkah or [gasp] do nothing at all!

Did you know Walmart is “Christmas-Friendly?”  That the giant mega-monster gets Dr. Dobson’s stamp of approval?  Oh indeed.

What a bunch of drivel. 

Here I am worried that my Christmas gifts are ethically produced; that they are not made by enslaved children or exploited adults and “America’s most influential evangelical leader” is guiding his followers to instead count the number of “Merry Christmas” signs as they fill their carts with slave-made chocolate.

I know he isn’t a scoundrel.  He really isn’t.  He is a good guy.  But there are some very real issues surrounding American consumerism. 

I just wish he would have gotten serious about something a little more in tune with the reason to celebrate the birth of Christ.  Maybe promote something like Advent Conspiracy.


[Guest Post from my sister]

It was my senior year at Southern Wesleyan when I first heard about human trafficking.  I don’t know if you remember the first time you heard about the fact that slavery still exists in our world.  I don’t know if it struck you the way it struck me.  Maybe this is the first time you are hearing of the enslavement of millions of people who are made in the image of God.  If so, read on!  If you know about modern slavery and you feel paralyzed by the overwhelming statistics, my hope is not to drill more statistics into your head so that you feel even more discouraged, but rather empower you to feel you can do something. 

Maybe you don’t care.  You have more pressing issues in your life.  I know.  I don’t understand where you are or what you’re going through.  When you are hurting, it is so hard to even begin to hurt for others.  As a counselor, my deepest desire would be to walk with you from point A to Z, to be with you on your journey of healing.  If this is your place, maybe you can find someone to help you heal.  Because being a part of redeeming the lives of those participating in and victims of injustice is, I dare say, the most fulfilling work on the planet.  And I don’t want you to miss it.

100_0425My journey began in the spring of 2003 when I had lunch with Dr. Joanne Lyon, the executive director of World Hope International.  I was a psychology major and I really wanted to do counseling.  I felt drawn to women and children in distress, victims of violence and abuse.  Dr. Lyon began to tell me about Cambodia and the problem of commercial sexual exploitation.  She talked about the need for mental health professionals to work with these girls after they had come out of prostitution.  I wept that night.  It was the first time I had heard about modern slavery.  A little over a year later, I boarded a plane for Cambodia.  My assignment was to assist in the set up an assessment center–the first place children rescued from slavery would be brought.  The first rescue of three little girls took place in June 2005.  Today, the center has served hundreds of girls who are victims of rape or commercial sex trafficking. 

Worldwide, there are nearly two million children in the commercial sex trade (UNICEF).  Human trafficking is the world’s third largest criminal enterprise, following drugs and weapons (U.S. Dept of State).  Slavery is particularly lucrative because while a drug may only be sold once, a human can be sold over and over again.  There may be as many as 27 million slaves in the world today and it is believed that half are minors (U.S. Dept of State).  And slavery isn’t some third world problem.  The U.S. is currently home to an estimated 175,000 slaves.

So what will you do?  How will you be an abolitionist?  Would you choose just one item from the list below?  Something you could do to spread awareness, stop the trade, redeem a life?

Learn more.  Download the Trafficking In Persons report from the U.S. Department of State or visit the Polaris Project.

Talk to your friends, your children, or your co-workers about modern slavery.  I know it isn’t light conversation but haven’t we all had enough of that?

Read books like Disposable People, Enslaved:  True Stories of Modern Day Slavery, The Natashas, or Children at War

Watch movies like Born into the Brothels, Blood Diamond, or Human Trafficking

Sign up for the latest news on sexual trafficking here and here.

Hang anti-trafficking posters in your business, church, or local community boards.  Victims, potential victims, and those who may know them can see the victim hotline with instructions in their language.  Posters are available for free download here. 

Blog about human trafficking.

Teach youth and young adults about the link between the sex industry and slavery.  Adults Saving Kids offers a complete curriculum for youth. 

Ask your legislators what they have done to stop slavery in your state.  If they haven’t done a thing…offer to provide information.  Give them a nudge. 

Create and Distribute anti-trafficking stickers, buttons, or t-shirts.  Cafepress is an easy way to print your issues.  Or order from a cafepress store already established.

Serve as a volunteer.  Organizations like FAAST welcome volunteers who can do research, write, design, organize, or staff events.  Or use your skills to serve vocationally–either short term or long. 

Buy “slave-free” goods.  Buy rugs carrying the Rugmark symbol.  Buy coffee, tea, and cocoa labeled “fair trade.”  Ask stores to stock these items.  Encourage your church or business to serve fair trade coffee.  Provide your faith community with info about coffee campaigns

Give gifts purchased from places like Ten Thousand Villages or Go Fish.  Or choose an alternative gift like this.

Do something.  Become an abolitionist.  It matters.