Fair Trade

There are only a few more shopping days until Christmas and time to buckle down and pick up those stocking stuffers! The holidays are a perfect time to celebrate fair trade, as it is a time for reflection and thanks.  Fair Trade is the epitome of what the holidays represent, so when you are picking up your stocking stuffers this year, why not make them fairly traded? You can feel good about your ethical decision and spread fair trade cheer throughout the land. There are number of great places to pick up Fair Trade goodies including your local fair trade store, Ten Thousand Villages, natural food stores, co-ops, and even Whole Foods. We have provided a quick list of some great ideas to use as stocking stuffers or even Hanukkah gifts!  So when you are out getting your last minute stocking stuffers, think fair trade!

Chocolates: This is probably the most readily available fair trade gift, even major supermarkets carry some fair trade chocolate. You can go for the big bars made by companies such as Alter Eco or Equal Exchange, or you can go the gourmet route such as Sjaak’s, who offer everything from peanut butter cups to truffles. Or better yet, how about some fair trade fudge, some of it’s even vegan friendly!

Mints: That’s right fair trade isn’t just for chocolate anymore! You can actually find fair trade mints Vermints.  These organic Canadian mints are made with  fair trade coffee, tea, and chocolate in their flavoring. Keep your breathe socially conscious and minty fresh!

Homemade Goodies: If you can’t quite find what you are looking for in the sweets department, make your favorite recipe using fair trade ingredients! Some great ideas are Fair Trade Banana Bread made with fair trade bananas and sugar, or how about Fair Trade Chocolate Chip Cookies made with fair trade chocolate chips and sugar. Check out the Fairtrade Foundation’s recipe recommendations for great ideas.

Jewelry:  Another great fair trade item is jewelry. And as you know, you can never go wrong there. You can find anything from earrings to necklaces, and even rings. We love these Daphne bracelets made by displaces women in Uganda. Also, the bike enthusiast in us adores these recycled bike chain bracelets from Ten Thousand Villages. You can find a whole host of great stocking stuffers in beautiful jewelry from at Ten Thousand Villages and other fair trade shops.

Ornaments: Give them something to hang on the tree for next year. Flavours For Life has a wide variety of fair trade ornaments, including our favorite, the holiday gift bag that states “Shop Fair Trade.” Nothing like spreading a little fair trade message! Pristine Planet and Ten Thousand Villages also have great holiday ornaments.

Little Toys: For those youngsters on your list, go for the fun stuff! There isn’t a huge selection of fair trade toys and you aren’t going to find any fair trade legos any time soon (maybe!) but you can find a few sweet fair trade toys. Try Down to Earth Toys such as these cute veggie stuffed animals. For those musically inclined children, we love these wooden egg shakers made in Bali.

Autonomie: Our fair trade store is a one stop shop for great stocking stuffers and we just happen to be having a Holiday Moving Sale which includes some great deals on stocking stuffers. We have our new fair trade earrings and bracelets, made from recycled soda can tabs and bar codes. There are also matching soda can belts! But the best deal of all is our fabulous flip flips, made with FSC Certified sustainable rubber. They are currently on sale for $5.50 (regular $22). Also, if you are shopping for your other needs and spend up to $100 you receive a free stocking stuffer of your choice, including an Autonomie Gift Card.

Gift Card: Which brings us to our last fair trade stocking stuffer idea. The Gift Card. You seriously can’t go wrong here, letting someone pick out their own gift! There are a lot of great places to give an ethical gift card to, including Ten Thousand Villages, Autonomie Project, your local fair trade store, and  Greenheart Shop. For a full list check the Fair Trade Federation.


The weather is certainly frightful and the only cure is to curl up in a blanket at relax with something warm to drink. When you are finished with your shopping and traveling, try cozying up with a hot glass of spiced apple cider. The holidays can be tense and stressful, but don’t let them get the better of you. Make sure you take a few moments to warm your soul, body, and RELAX! We have a special recipe for you that can be enjoyed quietly alone or served at your holiday party. You can serve with or without rum. Just remember, to put your feet up.

Organic Spiced Apple Cider

7 Cups of Organic Apple Cider
1/3 Cup Organic, Fair Trade Evaporated Cane Juice
1/2 Cup Organic Orange Juice
4 Organic, Fair Trade Cinnamon Sticks
1 Tbsp Whole Organic Nutmeg
1 Tbsp Whole Organic  Cloves
1 Tbsp Whole Organic  Allspice
Juice from one Organic Lemon
Orange and Lemon Peels for Zest
Organic, Fair Trade Cinnamon Sticks

1 Shot Organic Spiced Rum (optional)

In a large pot, warm the cider, lemon juice, orange juice on medium heat. Make sure not to boil the mixture. Add in the cane juice, while constantly stirring. Add all the spices, sans one cinnamon stick into a cheesecloth and tie off. Submerge the mixture into the cider and let simmer for about ten minutes. Meanwhile, peel the orange and lemon for a few pieces of zest. Remove the cheesecloth and set aside. If you are adding rum, put a shot into your mug and mix before garnishing. Garnish each glass with one cinnamon stick and a few zest peels of lemon and orange and serve warm!

Today is December 1st and the holiday season is now upon us. One of the great traditions of Christmas in the United States is the Christmas Card, where people send special holiday cards and updates to their loved ones near and far. The tradition actually began in England during the 19th Century and gained popularity on our side of the pond during the 20th Century.  Now living in the 21st Century, the use of snail mail and the waste of cards has slowed the Christmas Card mailings.  On top of this, many cards are made in China with questionable labor practices. However, there are ways to keep the Christmas Card dream alive and responsibly spread holiday cheer! Below we have outlined a few great ideas for ethical

E-Card: Aww the good ol’e e-card. This is probably the most environmentally friendly replacement for the traditional Christmas card. Plus there are so many great options, you can even send your own audio message.  You can even find great Hanukkah e-cards as well! All you have to do is gather you email addresses and hit send! Far more faster and environmentally responsible than purchasing physical cards.

Recycled: Even though e-cards may be easier in some respects, nothing quite beats the romanticism of receiving a card in the mail. When you go to purchase your cards, try to buy those made with recycled paper.  You can find many options online and even at your local store. Check out Cards with a Cause, recycled FSC certified cards that benefit charity.

Fair Trade: Believe it or not, there are fair trade holiday cards out there! A great source for fair trade cards is through Ten Thousand Villages, who have a wide variety of choices for the holidays. Another great place to look is your local fair trade store such as Global Exchange or try Cards from Africa, which benefits families affected by AIDS living in Rwanda.

Handmade: You can also purchase local handmade cards at Farmer’s Markets and street fairs in your area. If the weather is too chilly for that, try sites such as Etsy for unique handmade cards. It’s always great to support your local artisans, especially around the holidays.

Thrift: It may seem odd, but you would be surprised how many un-used holiday cards end up at thrift stores. You can find whole packs of them around the holidays! Also, some thrift stores normally carry bins of old un-used cards, perfect for the eco-responsible shopper. Plus you have the added bonus of finding some odd ones from the 70’s and 80’s, nothing beats vintage kitch!

Make Your Own: A fun holiday project for the family would be to make your own cards. You can use stamps, old Christmas cards, old wrapping paper, and just about anything you have laying around the house. There are some great ideas online on handmaking cards!

Photos: Another somewhat responsible way to go, is to print out a family or fun photo on your own printer. You can use recycled paper to do so! You can just print out your photo and slap a stamp on the back, as photos can be used as postcards and cost less than sending a card in an envelope. Plus this can be a fun and whacky way to update your loved ones on your family adventures of the year.

Recycle and Re-use the Cards You Receive:  After all the month of December is said and done and you have a pile of cards you’ve received, be sure not to just through them out. You have a few eco-friendly options including recycling them. But if you want to do something a little more fun, keep the cards around to make your own handmade cards next year. You can also use them to make a collage, ornaments, wrapping paper, or even gift boxes! Here are some other fantastic re-use ideas!

Happy Halloween!!! Since today is filled with spooktacular fun and it is the last day of Fair Trade Month, we thought why not post something fun and celebratory! It’s been a great month long celebration of Fair Trade and hopefully will continue year round. But in case you want to celebrate both the creepy side of Halloween and Fair Trade Month, try out our Fair Trade cocktail: the Bloody-tini. The ingredients are Fair Trade and it’s blood red color is sure to give you a fright. MMMwaahahahah!

Fair Trade Bloody-tini

2 oz Fair Trade FAIR Quinoa Vodka
1 oz Fair Trade FAIR Goji Liquor 
1/2 oz Fair Trade Maine Root Lemonade
Garnish with slice of an organic blood orange

Fair Trade Wholesome Sweetners Sugar on the rim

On the rim of the glass, use a slice of blood orange to wet the outside of your martini glass rim. In a shallow bowl, pour Fair Trade sugar and set the rim of the glass on the sugar. Turn a few times and set glass aside. In a cocktail shaker combine the Fair Trade vodka, Fair Trade Goji Liquor, Fair Trade Lemonade, and ice and shake. Strain into your sugar rimmed martini glass. Garnish with a blood orange slice and serve. For added spookiness, use natural food dyes to dye the sugar red.

Today we are continuing our celebration of Fair Trade Month and the producers who create the lovely products sold by Autonomie with a tale of small community action.  Literally two days ago we launched a whole new product line: Fair Trade belts and jewelry produced by our Fair Trade partners: Proxy Apparel. On top of being Fair Trade, the accessories are all environmentally friendly. They use up-cycled materials such as soda can tabs, wrappers, and bar codes that would normally end up in landfills.  Not only are we excited to be carrying such beautiful pieces, but we are super inspired by the story behind the women who make the jewelry.

Unlike many of our other products, which are made with larger scale Fair Trade manufacturing, these Fair Trade accessories are made in a small women’s cooperative in Guatemala. The cooperative was founded by a small group of women who wanted to empower themselves in 1988. Living in community outside Guatemala City, many of these women were marginalized by their society, where men make up the majority of the workplace, and by decades of Civil War that finally ended in 1996. Because of these issues, many women found it hard to find work to support their families. So the founders of UPAVIN Cooperative decided to bring their sewing and jewelry making skills together to form a cooperative, where every member is an owner and every member has an equal vote.

The women in this co-op grew to become the 80 members they are today, spanning several small communities around Guatemala City.  Most of the women in the co-op have become the sole providers for their family and are making it possible for their children to go to school in order to better their lives and those of the community.  Because the cooperative members have equal say and pay, they are able to take care of their families and provide health care and child care for each members entire family.

Since the early days in 1988, UPAVIN has expanded their cooperative beyond jewelry and seamstress work. In addition to the jewelry their cooperative now provides the community with a craft business, local bakery, and a soy milk store. They also now run a small school and child care facility. 

UPAVIN is a clear example of how people can empower themselves as workers. They can band together as one unit and make Fair Trade a reality. By joining their skills they have created a democratic and safe place for their fellow members to work, opportunity for themselves and families, and strengthened their communities. This is true direct action of workers who want a better life for themselves and future generations. 

Although these cooperatives follow Fair Trade principles, they differ from many Fair Trade certified farms and factories around the world. Typically those farms and factories are still in the model of typical business, with owners or boards and many different pay scales. Many are unionized to include democratic practices and all adhere by Fair Trade standards of fair wages, safe work environments, fair hours, and benefits including health care, life insurance, and pensions. Cooperatives are on a much more grass-roots level but still follow the same principles. All members of cooperatives like UPAVIN receive fair wages and technically own the company!

So when you make the decision to support small community run cooperatives like UPAVIN, you are directly benefiting the craftswomen or men who made your product. The money goes directly to the producers and they decide what to do with it. What they’ve decided is to provide health care, child care, and education for their families and within their communities and beyond.


GIVEAWAY: In honor of October being Fair Trade Month, we are giving away a pair of our Fair Trade belts or jewelry! Head over to our Facebook to win a pair of the Proxy accessories our UPAVIN cooperative members produced! Our last Facebook status is a link to our blog. Enter our giveaway by sharing our blog post. Just hit “share” underneath our blog’s link on Facebook! Also, for the next week all UPAVIN made jewelry is on sale on our website!

Everybody loves to dress up for Halloween. Some choose something scary like vampires, witches, and black cats, while others choose fantasy like fairies and elves, while still others go for pop culture references. Whatever the costume, Halloween is always a fun time.  But is there a way to make Halloween a learning experience? Have you ever thought of a costume with a meaning? Since it is Fair Trade Month, we thought we’d come up with a few costume ideas that have a cause. The following are some fun ideas that are sure to get the party conversation started.

Costumes with a Cause

1) Fair Trade Logo:  Dress up as the Fair Trade Certified Logo. An easy way to do this would be to sew together a stretch suit of black and white. You can also carry two coffee mugs, one black, one white . And if you want to drive home the message, consider carrying a sign that says “Fair Trade Certified.” That way when people ask what you are, you can explain Fair Trade in general.

2) Fair Trade Farmer: Dress in some work clothes and a farming hat. Make sure to look healthy, happy, and well fed. You could also carry some farm tools and a sign with the Fair Trade logo on it. If someone says, “Oh you’re a farmer!” you can respond that you are actually a “Fair Trade farmer.”

3) Fair Trade Coffee: Probably the single most recognized Fair Trade product is coffee. Find a burlap sack or a large coffee bean bag and turn it into a dress. You can add coffee beans to the outside for extra effect and be sure to add the “Fair Trade Certified” logo!

4) Sweatshop Worker: In case you want to show what can happen without Fair Trade certification, dress up in your best interpretation of an overworked and underpaid sweatshop worker. Find some factory worker’s uniform. Be sure to put bags under your

eyes and dirty your clothes. You could even go barefoot for extra effect. Another great idea for a couple’s costume is for one to go as a sweatshop worker while the other goes as a happy Fair Trade farmer. You’ll be sure to get the party conversation started that way!

5) Fair Trade Head to Toe: Dress in Fair Trade clothing from head to toe and represent Fair Trade Month. You can find Fair Trade goods in almost everything from jewelry, hats, tees, pants, dresses, and even shoes!  When someone asks you what you are supposed to be, explain you are a walking example of Fair Trade Month!

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