Monday, December 3, 2012

Fair trade fun

Do yourself a favor as you're holiday shopping on the internet:  Stick the phrase "fair trade" in some of your searches for personal gift items and household goods.  You might be surprised at what results.
I published this post yesterday describing the new light we installed above our dining table.  As is often the case, an upgrade in one area calls attention to other elements that need to be upgraded for consistency.  In my case, I had gotten a fair trade Guatemalan apron similar to this one about 20 years ago, but it's starting to get shabby by now (a testament to its hand-crafted quality that it lasted through daily wear for 20 years). 

So I went looking for a new one that would fit the style of my kitchen.  I cook daily, and a good apron is absolutely essential, but I have zero desire to look like Betty Boop.  It needed to be sophisticated and classy and conservative.  This is the one I picked out (screengrabbed above) - in case the link expires in the future, it's called the "Javanese Jewel" apron from 7 Hopes United Fair Trade Gifts.  Is that a great stylistic match, or what??
There is no way that original designs like that can be found in mass-market merchandise.  Very often with fair trade items, the quality and designs are significantly better while the price remains about the same as what is offered in the mass market.  But unless you insert the "fair trade" qualifier into your internet searches, you're not likely to come across the stuff, because internet traffic patterns tend to keep it pushed way down the stack. 

There are plenty of other sources that will tell you that buying fair trade is the "right" thing to do from a moralistic standpoint.  I have a Libertarian bent and so I would tend to tell you instead that it's often the "smart" thing to do from a value standpoint. 

I wish I could also tell you that there are brick-and-mortar retail alternatives near us, but I don't know of any.  Inside the Loop, there are places like Corazon and Ten Thousand Villages (I really like the latter), but I don't know of any south of Houston.  No matter - that's what the internet is for.

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