A Very Fair Trade Christmas: Use Your Black Friday & Cyber Monday Shopping to Change the World

 

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This post may contain affiliate links. Thanks for your support.

We all know that the Christmas season is probably the largest spending time of the year, especially in the United States. Traditionally, Black Friday and now Cyber Monday as well have become a major part of that experience.

However, it’s easy to overlook how our Christmas shopping can be a tool to create social and economic change. There are some ethical companies offering great deals this weekend. Even by making just a few ethical or fair trade purchases as you do your holiday shopping allows artisans all over the world to create better lives for themselves and their families.

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The Root Collective

If you haven’t figured it out already, I really love The Root Collective. Founder Bethany Tran has put together a great collection of shoes, scarves, jewelry and more by artisans primarily from Guatemala and Kenya.  You can see the artisan who made each item and learn more about his or her story.

In case you needed yet another reason, the items are gorgeous and unique. Plus I love knowing that the artisans have been paid a fair wage for their work and my limited buying power is a tool toward providing better lives for young women in Kenya or former gang members in La Limonada.

The Root Collective is offering 25% off all items (including those already on sale) through December 2 with the code JOYTOTHEWORLD. But don’t worry, all the artisans have already been paid in full.

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Elegantees

What if you could by unique clothes and provide housing and employment to victims of sex trafficking? You can! Elegantees creates clothing that is stylish and beautiful but also practical and washable. (As a mom, that sounds perfect to me). Their products are produced in New York City and Nepal by victim’s of sex trafficking who are building new lives for themselves.  These amazing women are learning a trade that will allow them to financially support themselves while also being counseling and mentored.

These beautiful tops, dresses and scarves will be 15% off until December 2 with the code THANKS, plus any purchase of $50 or more receives a free gift.

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To The Market

This is basically an online market for products from all over the world. They carry a little bit of everything and you also get the story of each artisan.

“TTM showcases handmade goods made exclusively by proud and passionate artisans who have overcome the perils of abuse, conflict, and disease. By assisting local partners around the world in bringing these goods “to the market,” we take an active role in equipping the survivor’s that they employ with economic independence, while raising awareness of the challenges that they face.”

I don’t think there is a better way to describe this amazing site. If you find the sheer number of goods a bit overwhelming (I know I did at first), check out their holiday gift guide.

You can search by country, item (such as bags, accessories or jewelry) or cause. If you have a passion for victims of HIV/Aids or Human Trafficking, for example, you can search for goods made specifically by those fighting those challenges. Even better, you have the option of consulting a personal stylist to help you choose an item for yourself or a gift for someone else.

So as you field the blitz of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday deals, don’t overlook the chance to be a more conscious consumer and make a real impact with your purchases.

 

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Learning to Ride: A Beginner’s Intro to Ethical Shopping

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Photo courtesy of The Root Collective

As we head into the biggest shopping season of the year, it’s easy to get caught up in the stress and excitement associated with the holidays especially when it comes to our buying habits. It’s not just about how much money we spend, but how we choose to spend it. Today I’m pleased and honored to share a guest post from Brooke Fontoura, blog manager of the Root Collective, about how we can make our buying choices more consciously. (This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support.)

They say you never forget how to ride a bike. Once you’ve learned, it cannot be unlearned.

The same can be said of conscious consumerism. Because once you’ve seen the atrocities that occur daily in many garment factories across the globe, you cannot unsee it. Poor working conditions, low wages, child labor, etc.

It sticks with you.

And that’s a pretty scary thing. Because you’re left feeling overwhelmed, hopeless, and lost. Like a five year old on a bicycle.

But the best thing about learning to ride a bike… is that there are training wheels.

Becoming an ethical shopper isn’t always easy. It takes knowledge, effort, and a whole mess of patience. It takes honesty, persistence, and heart. Like any new challenge, it needs to be met with understanding. It’s easy to say that you are going to completely change your shopping habits overnight, but the reality can become a bit less easy. (This may or may not be from my own experience of picking up and then putting down the same LBD ten times at a fast fashion outlet, my conscious and vanity competing with each other.)

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Photo courtesy of The Root Collective

Below are some (what I hope will be) helpful suggestions and tips for riding through the murky world of shopping. Remember to keep your helmet on and don’t stop peddling.

  • Keep calm and think of why you’re doing this: Be real with yourself. Ask yourself, “Why am I committed to changing my purchasing habits?” Is there a personal story that effected you? What was it about that story that caused you to rethink how you spend your money? Keep that in mind when you shop. Remember why.
  • Do your research: Researching isn’t just for term papers. Like any important change in life, researching is going to be the golden rule in your journey to an ethical closet. Knowing where your goods come from is important. It may seem overwhelming at first, but you’ll be surprised at the amount of resources a simple Google search can yield. And always read your labels. (I suggest this post from The Art of Simple for a handy list of awesome, ethically sourced companies.)
  • Ask questions: Don’t be afraid to raise your hand. Generally speaking, a quality ethical company will be transparent about their supply chain. However, if while researching a company, you find that they may not be as see-through as you’d like – ask! Ask where they source their goods from, how their workers are treated, or anything else you can’t seem to find the answer to.
  • Don’t beat yourself up: Life is tough. Some of us have a flock of kids in the backseat, others are college students with not a lot of spending money, while others are in the somewhere between. Do what you can. Don’t feel awful about yourself if you find that one of your favorite companies may not be on the ethical shopper’s good list. We’ve all made mistakes before and that’s okay. It’s part of the learning process. Instead of buying from that brand, search for an ethical company with similar products. If that search is taking a bit of time, try buying used products from that brand at a local thrift shop while you wait. (There are also awesome online used clothing stores. The Root Collective featured some for our weekly blog series, #FashionFriday.)
  • Take it one step at a time: What do you normally buy most? Scarves? What do you need at the moment? A good pair of shoes? Look for an ethical supplier (like The Root Collective!). After that, incorporate something else – like jewelry, then handbags, etc. When you make one step, you’ll start making more and then it all becomes second nature. (Also, many companies offer more than one fashion category. Your search for ethically sourced leggings can lead you to dresses, skirts, hats, and more!)
  • Sharing is caring: Share your findings with others. Often times, shoppers feel discouraged by what they feel is a lack of options. They simply don’t know that there is another choice out there for them other than what they see in the stores, on T.V., or on a billboard. They may already know of the abuse within the fashion industry, but don’t know what they can do themselves. When you talk about your favorite new ethical fashion brand or wear your new earrings to the office Christmas party, share the story behind your purchase and let everyone know how they can contribute to the change.

 

Taking on a new way of life is frightening stuff and starting an ethical fashion journey is no exception. It’s a big step, a genuine step, one with the opportunity to create real change. It may be a bumpy road but you’ll notice the difference with each turn of the peddle. And, donned in your ethically sourced fashion lovelies, you’ll look pretty great doing it.

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Brooke Fontoura is the blog manager for The Root Collective, an ethical fashion company with a mission for good. She’s a tea drinking, chocolate loving, book reading girl next door who pins more things on Pinterest than she actually makes. A fair trade activist and animal lover, she can usually be found singing silly sings out of tune with her little one. She also has difficulties writing her own bio.

Don’t forget that The Root Collective is offering the coupon code JOYTOTHEWORLD that is valid from Friday to Tuesday for 25% off your purchase! (Don’t worry, all the artisans have been paid in full.)