These beautiful fair trade items are hand made with love and in a traditional style. The people who made them? They are treated like decent, hardworking people, and they’re fairly compensated for their beautiful work. Fair trade should be the norm all around the world. Here’s why:
What is Fair Trade?
Fair Trade is defined as “a trade between companies in developed countries and producers in developing countries in which fair prices are paid to the producers.” When you live in the US, even when you live below the poverty line, it is hard to imagine what it is like to live as a person who works in a developing country for pennies compared to even the $7.25 minimum wage that is still in effect in the US. Some folks don’t make that in a week in developing countries!
Often times, when people are paid those despicably unfair wages, they also work in frightening conditions. Those poor working conditions can lead to life-altering injuries, such as those received in a recent truck crash in Cambodia. The truck was crowded and carrying 49 people people to work. 5 of them lost limbs, and 7 of those people died.
It is the mission of fair trade companies to put an end to incidents like this by empowering workers in developing countries through paying them fair wages and providing more than jobs, but opportunities for them to own their own businesses. Ten Thousand Villages is one of those amazing companies.
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Ten Thousand Villages & Their Fair Trade Mission
“Maker to Market” is a motto that Ten Thousand Villages proudly shares. Through a long-term trading program, they partner with artisans in developing countries to sell their products to new audiences all over the world for prices that will allow them to make a fair and comfortable living wage. Ten Thousand Villages has an average of a 25 year working relationship with the artisans they partner with. That says a lot about their integrity and character, for artisans to work with them for so long!
In addition to working with artisans to develop pricing that brings in fair living wages for them, Ten Thousand Villages also works with artisans to practice sustainable creation processes, they invest in communities to help the people there build them up, all while preserving indigenous craftsmanship and sharing it with people around the world. When communities work with Ten Thousand Villages to sell their crafts and artwork, their lives improve!
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My Top Fair Trade Picks from Ten Thousand Villages
Disclosure: I received a Ten Thousand Villages product for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience. I also use affiliate links. These links may compensate me at no extra charge to you should you purchase any of the items using the links I provide.
Woven baskets, like wicker baskets, are wildly popular right now, so finding some that are woven with traditional methods from around the world was a beautiful discovery. The baskets are made by different groups of women, but I love that both the palm leaf and kaisa grass produce soft outer textures, but heavy duty baskets.
The Essential Companion Tote is handwoven using palm leaves, and it has long, sturdy leather handles attached to it. There is also a version that attaches to bikes – the Palm Leaf Bike Basket. I love it because it can safely carry heavy items, and because it looks like a classic fashion statement. I know it will still be in style 5, 10, and 30 years from now. Ten Thousand Villages shares the makers, who are artisans from Bangladesh who have been making crafts to sell through Ten Thousand Villages since 1983. Over the past 20 years, 1000+ women of the Rishi caste, through the Rishilpi Handcrafts Limited nonprofit organization. They’ve woven 65,000 of these baskets by hand. The income they earned from it allowed them to provide education, medical care, housing, food, and clothing for their families.
I’m proud to know that the Kaisa Grass Basket is make by women in a different part of Bangladesh – the Hajiganj artisans. This is the 10″ basket and it fits a medium size plant very well. I believe it would be perfect for a small tree. This basket also comes in a 12″ size. I got a new plant for it – a “silver queen,” or aglaonema. The plant’s pot is really small in the basket, so I have it propped up on some heavy duty craft paper. I’m excited to watch the plant grow in this basket!
Other Fair Trade Picks from Ten Thousand Villages
- Fox Finger Puppet – made by artisans in Nepal’s Association for Craft Producers. All of the puppets and toys are so cute!
- Loomed Folklore Bag – made by artisans in Bangladesh’s Prokitee agency.
- Eat Well Produce Sacks – made by women artisans of Saidpur Enterprises in Bangladesh.
Support Fair Trade Businesses
How often can you state exactly where your products were made, and how it benefits the makers? Fair trade makes me excited beyond just having the products. I’m excited for the REAL PEOPLE behind the product. I hope this post helps you get excited about supporting fair trade products and the people behind them, too!
Head to Ten Thousand Villages to learn more about the people – the artisans – who create the beautiful products there, and to add some fair trade decor, accessories, toys, and more to your life!