I have been quite fascinated with the concept of Fair Trade--a business framework with a social conscience. In a nutshell, in order to trade your goods fairly, a fair local wage must be paid (versus sweatshop rates), provide equal opportunities to all people, particularly the disadvantaged (women, seniors, handicapped), engage in environmentally sustainable practices, and prioritize the upliftment of the workers' financial lives.
According to a recent article in Muncie, Indiana's Star Press, "the National Retail Federation expects the average consumer to spend $791.10 this holiday season, up from $738.11 last year."
Surely, Fair Trade gifts can use some of that spending.
Many websites have dedicated themselves to selling Fair Trade products. Check out Africa's Global Crafts.Org. There is also World of Good.Com.
One of my favorite sites is the more Asian-oriented
Ten Thousand Villages.Com, featuring artisans from the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, among others.
I am glad to have seen the recycled Philippine products around. The doy pack bags are popular but so are the rolled paper crafts--frames, coasters, trivets. My cousins and I saw them at Baskeesh at Napa. We were so proud.
Global Girlfriend is an online fair trade store that sells handmade gifts made by women's non-profit programs and cooperatives. I bought my friend C, a bracelet from Peru for her birthday. She was elated and I have never been prouder of my small gift.
Worthy of mention is Ecoist.com, the hip and colorful candy wrapper bags that are catching fashion editors' eyes. Ecoist promises to plant a tree for every bag sold, too.
Today, there was a business article in the newspaper that spoke directly to me. the article was about Escama--and the story of the San Francisco man who set up Brazilian women co-ops to gather soda can push tops to create eco-friendly bags using crochet and recycled aluminum pop tops.
This kind of business plan appeals to me. And maybe one day, I will be blessed with the time and courage to explore it.
Should you need gift ideas, do something nice for more people by trying Fair Trade Products. They have a varied price range and an even bigger product selection.