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Valentine’s Day is meant to spread love and devotion to those around you. So when you are choosing what to give your sweetie or loved one, think about the energy that was put into the product you buy. Purchasing something ethical, such as fair trade goods, will be made with love that you can pass on to your recipient. We enjoy buying ethically and are excited to choose Fair Trade for our Valentine’s Day needs. We have done a few gift guides for Fair Trade Valentine’s over the years, but this year we decided to choose our favorite Fair Trade V-Day gifts! Sending our fair love to you.

Sweet Earth Chocolates Heart Box

1) Sweet Earth Chocolates Heart Box: Who doesn’t love a good box of chocolates? We love Sweet Earth Chocolate’s Red or God Heart Box which are filled with 11 heart shaped chocolates. We prefer the Gold Box, filled with an assortment of vegan chocolates. All their sweets are Fair Trade and organic. Plus the traditional red and gold heart shaped box gives an old school feel to your Valentine’s Day. Also, you can’t beat the price, coming in around $22.50 for organic, fair trade, and gourmet chocolates.

 

Organic Style Crown Majesty Roses

2) Organic Style Crown Majesty Roses: Not usually a fan of pink, but this beautiful light pink rose bouquet is one of our favorites. Organic Style is a great eco and socially conscious flower company that we have used on many occasions. These beautiful, antique looking roses are Fair Trade and have high labor standards. On top of that, the flowers are EcoBlooms certified, certified sustainable, the vase is made from recycled glass, all packaging is recycled, and shipping is green using carbon offsets. All around this bouquet and many like it on Organic Style’s website is all around ethical!

Ten Thousand Villages Valentine Banner Card

3) Ten Thousand Villages Be Mine Banner: If you are looking to make a big statement this Valentine’s Day, consider Ten Thousand Villages Be Mine Banner Card. The card states “Be Mine, I’m Yours” on a handmade Fair Trade card from Bangladesh. The red and pink card is made from Water Hyacinth paper and comes with it’s own envelope. You could give it as a card or hang it as a banner to spice things up! Plus you can’t beat the price at $7.00!

 

Ten Thousand Villages Hearts Afloat Candles

4) Ten Thousand Villages Hearts Afloat Candles: Spice up your night with these lovely floating Fair Trade candles. These lovely candles are handmade in India and would really get the romantic vibe right in a bath for two or set the tone for dinner by floating in a centerpiece. They come in a nice box which states “Melt My Heart” so they are already gift wrapped for those on the go.  You can’t miss with these thoughtful and sweet Fair Trade candles.

 

World of Good Cupcake Set

5) World of Good Cupcake Set: If you want to show your cupcake just what you think of her, here is the perfect gift! The matching handmade and Fair Trade cupcake earrings and necklace are made in Mexico. This adorable set is perfect for any cupcake in your life including your daughter, friend, wife, girlfriend, or even mother. We love the simple and cutesy look of this set and would be proud to wear it ourselves.

 

Autonomie Project Fair Trade Jewelry Sale

6) Last But Not Least:  We couldn’t help but take the time to announce our own lovely Fair Trade Valentine’s Gifts at Autonomie.While some of our items are unconventional gifts such as red sneakers and flip flops, we do have beautiful Fair Trade Jewelry from our friends at Proxy Apparel.  And just because we love our customers so much, we have a Valentine’s Sale going now of up to 50% off and an additional 15% off when you purchase two pairs of sneakers.

With two days left until Christmas, the procrastinators of the world are coming out in full force. Perhaps you were too busy to go shopping, maybe you couldn’t decide what to get, or you might have just been plain putting it off.  Last minute gifts usually means long lines, fights, crowds and all at large chain stores. There will be very few choices left and you’ll end up purchasing whatever you can, rather than a meaningful gift. We understand this position and have been in it many a year. We also understand that giving something environmentally friendly is important to many of us. Just because you procrastinated, doesn’t mean you have to skip on eco gifts. So we have put together a helpful guide on some great last-minute eco-friendly gifts. Good luck out there!

Eco-friendly Starter Kit: You’re low on time, but you want to get your loved one a gift that introduces them to using eco-friendly products. This should be a pretty fast and easy gift to put together. You can run down to your local store, Whole Foods, or even Supermarket, grab a bucket or basket and purchase some eco cleaning such as soaps, detergent, recyclable paper towels, shampoo etc. You may even be able to snag a helpful tip book at your local co-op or Whole Foods.

Travel Mugs: Disposable coffee cups are terrible for the environment, yet super convenient, as many people still use them. However, for the coffee, tea, or cocoa lovers on your list, get them a responsibly made travel mug. You should be able to find some at any store or cafe. Just be sure not to purchase any that are made of plastic. For a better treat, add some coffee or tea to their gift!

Organic Goodie Basket: Places like Whole Foods and supermarkets are open late and are chock full of organic goodies. Grab a basket and fill it with all sorts of organic items. You can do a fruit and nut basket, add some organic chocolate and crackers. Better yet, if you happen to have a Farmer’s Market in the next couple of days, purchase some fruit from local farms or some gift items like organic kettle corn.

Eco Bath Set: Another easy and quick gift for your loved ones that love to pamper themselves. You can find many eco friendly bath goodies, such as fancy soaps, bath salts, natural sponges, and of course bubble bath. Just go to the natural foods section or bath products section of most stores. Of course if you are going to a local natural foods store or even Whole Foods, you’ll likely only find eco bath items!

Organic & Local Wine, Beer, & Spirits: Most people appreciate a nice bottle of wine, a frosty bottle of beer, or a warm spirit to enjoy on Christmas Eve or day. An easy eco fix is to purchase organic versions. You have a ton of options in the wine department, as there are many wineries going organic or at least using organic grapes. Here is a small list of organic wines, but you should be able to locate many others at your local store, just be sure to read the label.  For beer, we recommend you go with your local micro-breweries, but there are also great organic beer companies such as Bison Brewery or Peak Organics.  Spirits may be a little harder to find a few days before Christmas, however, you may be able to find some of the larger organic vodkas and rums at a large liquor store. Look for Square One Vodka, Greenbar Collective, Rain Vodka, and Crusoe Rum. These gifts will definitely add a little kick to the holiday spirit!

Organic Homemade Sweets: When you just can’t think of anything to buy, make some gifts of your own, just be sure to get all organic ingredients! Many of your favorite holiday recipes can be made organic and even vegan! Everything from the cocoa to the sugar can be purchased organic and in bulk(that way you cut down on waste).  Try out some of our great organic and vegan holiday recipes or try one of your own.

Gift Cards: When in doubt, you can always purchase a gift card to an eco-friendly store or restaurant. There are plenty online stores, that you can just print or email your gift card. This gives you up until Christmas morning to purchase a gift! Try Autonomie Project, eco clothing & footwear, Greenheart, fair trade & eco gifts, and even Pangea Vegan Shop. Also, check out Pristine Planet for a whole host of eco gift cards.  If you have a local green or organic restaurant, consider stopping in and purchasing a gift certificate. For a list of Green Certified restaurants check here.

Donation Gifts: Another easy and quick online purchase, is to make a donation in your loved ones name. You can do everything from planting a tree to giving school supplies. You can even sponsor a rescued animal or adopt an endangered species. See our guide to Gifts that Keep on Giving for a great list of different donation options.

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.

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.

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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!

Madhara Dulanjali is 10 years old and lives on the Frocester Rubber Estate in Horana, which is located in the western province of Sri Lanka. Her great-grandparents worked as rubber tappers at this estate, and her father and mother – Vijararatnam and Kumari – both started working as tappers in 1995.

Madhara and her family are part of the so-called “plantation Tamils,” which is a term for those whose ancestors had been brought to work in Sri Lanka by the British colonial administration more than 100 years ago. For almost a century this meant no citizenship or the right to vote. After some tumultuous times most of the Tamils were granted citizenship at the end of the Twentieth Century. However, socially and economically, they continue to be ignored in their country.

In their little town of Horana, Madhara’s family had been trying to get the State to provide electricity. However, considering their political status, it was unlikely to happen. Furthermore, the cost of the electricity extension is so high, it would never have been supported from public funds. 52 families live in the same town as Madhara and her family, all have been living without electricity.

However, this March, these 52 families no longer had to worry about their kids doing homework in the dark. This plantation works under Fair Deal Trading, a Fair Trade company that produces Autonomie Project’s Ethletic flip flops, rubber boots, and rubber sneakers.

As workers of Fair Trade, they not only receive higher premium wages, but  additional profits from the rubber sales are placed in a Fair Trade Premium account that the workers themselves control and vote on how to use the funds. The 52 families knew exactly what to do with the $33,197 in Fair Trade premiums they earned from all the rubber they produced last year: electricity!

Fair Deal Trading paid the Fair Trade premiums, and today Madhara, her family, and 52 other families have electricity in their homes!!

As Madhara’s family fought to bring electricity to their town, her parents enrolled her into a school that teaches in Sinhala, the language spoken by the majority ethnic group in Sri Lanka, in order to have a better chance for the future beyond rubber tapping.

Now with electricity, the children’s school uniforms can be ironed instead of the usual way, which was folding them under their pillow overnight to “press” it. Two other things they welcomed warmly into their towns: refrigerators and television!

Most importantly, Madhara and her classmates are now able to do their homework after dark without ruining their eyes. This allows them to do even better at school, and making it unlikely that she, or her brother and sister, will become the 4th generation of rubber tappers.

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GIVEAWAY: Head over to our Facebook to win a pair of the flip flops our Horana rubber tappers 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, be sure to check the website for a special discount on Fair Trade Flip Flops.

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