I love, love coffee dates. I'm particular to those in my home because I'm not quite sure where to get a good cup of fair trade coffee around here ,other than Haute Chocolate, but they don't open til 11. It's 6 as I type this. Also, I really want organic half and half, too, and while I will admit to carrying my own with me from time to time just come over to my house for coffee, please. It's cheaper. Easier on my conscience. And you can stay as long as you want.
Once in a while, I like to host these virtual coffee dates. Maybe that's weird. But basically, I tell you some random stuff about me that I feel like spilling this morning and then it's your turn. This works out because maybe you're not awake at 6 and/or maybe you're pretty picky about your coffee, too, but I don't make it like you like or I don't have your favorite creamer.
I should first tell you that I ate 3 giant marshmallows last night while sacked out on the couch with my exhausted son, watching Phineas and Ferb. Yes, I did. Those marshmallows were not the real food, homemade kind (although that needs to happen in our house!). They were the store-bought, grabbed for a trip to the mountains and stuffed in the back of our pantry kind. I tell you this not out of guilt, but because I want you to know that when I write my Real Food Fridays series, I'm not talking about perfection. I'm talking about the choices we make most of the time.
I wake up every morning wondering if this will be the day I meet my Selah girl. I am trying to keep making plans as usual, enjoy my one-on-one time with Nolan, and relax in the fact God knows the day and hour of her birth. My challenge is that the cramps and contractions I've been having don't let me forget for too long that I am about to give birth, and I've kind of stopped formally exercising because holy cramps (!).
My current obsessions include Noonday and Don't Waste the Crumbs.
- Noonday is all about creating a sustainable marketplace for women around the world who are otherwise economically vulnerable or oppressed. The jewelry and accessories are gorgeous, the stories are compelling, and the work being done is redemptive and beautiful and it seems like the right place for me to be right now.
-Don't Waste the Crumbs is a blog/ website all about eating real food on a budget. I can't get enough and pour over the posts when I have the chance. As a stay at home mom (read: brings in minimal income) with a passion for quality, sustainable food systems, I am mining this site for all its worth.
What's something that you think about every day?
How do you like your coffee?
What are you obsessed with these days?
I did it.
I created an account with thredUp. I perused the maternity section and picked out 5 things in my size. Most items ended up being under $5 each and every item was less than $10 each.
No sweatshops involved:-).
My clothes arrived in a sweet little package, which OF COURSE I neglected to photograph because even after years of blogging, I still do not have the picture part of publishing posts down.Please trust me, it was cute, but not overly done in a why did they waste so many materials?" kind of way.
I tried everything on, and guess what?
Only one item fit over my massive pregnant belly.
Luckily, returning the items was pretty easy. I filled out an online form explaining the return, printed a return label, and shipped the too-small items back. I've already received my refund.
The downside? I did have to pay almost $10 for the return.
HOWEVER, I have since discovered that orders received through thredUp's Android or IOS apps are eligible for free returns. I have an Android and promptly downloaded the app because I plan on ordering again after Selah is born. The clothing I received was in great shape. In fact, I couldn't tell that it had been previously worn. The service was great, and I love that ordering through them is affordable, offers me cute quality clothes, and doesn't support sweat shops.
With that said...
Not supporting the wrong stuff is good, but sometimes supporting the right stuff takes some investment. For example, buying chocolate from companies who don't use child labor and actually build families up costs a little more than your checkout aisle candy bar because the workers are getting paid appropriately. If we can afford to be buying chocolate that we don't need anyway, we can afford to eat a little less in order to get the right stuff and be a small part of laborers receiving a living wage.
I feel this way about jewelry. I like to get my accessories from sources that support job creation and poverty alleviation. I've recently discovered another company, Noonday, who does this, and I've fallen in love. The jewelry is a little more expensive than your average Target piece, but it has SO much more character, offers a better story, and will hold up better, too. I know it's a mind shift, but I think spending a little more on fewer of what we don't actually need so we can invest in what is good and beneficial for ourselves AND others is worthwhile.
Because of this, a good chunk of time is going to pass before I purchase another piece of jewelry or a scarf, but when I do, I'm going to try out Noonday. (I'll be sure to post a review!) In the mean time, a group of bloggers just left on a trip to Rwanda with Noonday and International Justice Mission. (I highly recommend checking out both organizations.) They'll be visiting and telling the stories of "Rwandan women who have overcome injustice and have been empowered through economic opportunity." I'll be following along with Jen Hatmaker's posts, and you can also follow along here and with the #Stylefor Justice hashtag on Twitter. (If you're feeling inspired, you can also sign up to host a Noonday Trunk show. I really want to, but am pretty sure it's a *little* too close to Selah's estimated date of arrival.)
The boys are sleeping.
I'm not sure for how much longer, so I'm going to try to type quickly.
I've been sitting here, thinking about what to do with my fair trade efforts next.
I write once a week, but I really haven't had the structure of time set aside just to work recently. I think summer weekends tend to be quite busy, and since my working time was usually Saturday morning/afternoon (prime get-together/travelling/much-needed family time), my efforts have been kind of squished into the more empty spots of my days.
I know that I cannot change a system that is so often bent on "more for less" on my own. I don't despair over that, but I also am not quite sure where to go from here.
I'd love to host a screening of "The Dark Side of Chocolate," hold a little discussion, provide fair trade chocolate-based snacks, that sort of thing...but who would come ? And where would I have it?
I don't know HOW to change things, but I know that doesn't mean I get to give up.
There is no giving up on something I am passionate about.
Discouragement at times, yes. But no quitting.
I do know that I can make changes to what I do. I know that I can do something to make sure I am gracious and knowledgeable when someone does want to have a conversation about fair trade/small farmers/ workers rights/slavery.
I know that I can try things and fail and try things again.
Not only can but should and need to.
It's about time to try (a few new) things.
This Saturday is my first fair trade event!
I have business cards, a website and a Facebook page (both launch Saturday along with the event), info, helpful friends and family, and more than 1000 samples to give away.
There is a 60% chance of a thunderstorm.
The phrase "Do what you can with what you have (where you are)" (a Theodore Roosevelt quote) is my mantra.
Thank you so much for the questions and comments on fair trade! Those I've received so far have given me some great food for thought. Now I'm pretty sure I have enough material for several articles. Please keep your questions/criticisms/overall thoughts on fair trade coming!
Monday has, once again, arrived a little too quickly. We just love weekends around here!
One way to combat the Monday blues? Think of, list out, plan more things I have to look forward to this week.
Hello, walking with my mom and Nolan to hash out plans for Katie's bridal shower. (I love everything about this- the people in it, the walking, the planning...)
Hello, ordering (lots of!) chocolate for my first big fair trade- centric event.
Hello, Bob Harper Inside Out Method workouts (I'm feeling pretty "tough" lately, and I love it.)
Hello, hair cut! I need one, pretty badly.
Hello, meeting up with a dear friend who I feel like I just can't get enough time with. (She's the kind that is "like a breath of fresh air." )
Hello, extra day off for my hubby, my BROTHER coming home, and Easter egg dying with some pretty fantastic kids.
Your turn! What are you looking forward to this week?
and I'm wondering what concerns/criticisms/questions/praises you have about fair trade.
If you have them, would you share with me in the comments or shoot me an email?
I'd love to hear from you!
As I said I would, I have a few Easter shopping suggestions.
Mmmm...Have you tried this stuff? Divine Chocolate is 45% farmed-owned. I'm in love with Divine Chocolate for managing to produce a quality product that adds to the quality of life of its suppliers. Read more about the values of Divine Chocolate here.
My pick: The White Chocolate Bar
Runners-up: Dark Chocolate Bunnies
-The Body Shop
The Body Shop sources its cocoa butter from the same farmer-owned coop that Divine Chocolate does. They take care to ethically source other ingredients "wherever possible." You can read more about the values and goals of The Body Shop here and here.
My pick: Chocomania or Strawberry Body Butter
Equal Exchange is a worker-owned coop that trades directly with small farmers. Their work is helping to build up small farming groups and communities who might otherwise be taken advantage of or wiped out by larger corporations. You can read more about the values of Equal Exchange here.
I recommend their Mint Chocolate Bar or Dark Chocolate Minis.
-Simply Organic Carrot Cake Baking Mix
Simply Organic produces several baking mixes that are fair trade certified, but I think the Carrot Cake variety would be the most fun for Easter (with homemade cream cheese icing, of course.) (I find mine in the "health food" section of my local Giant Food store.) Simply Organic is owned by Frontier Natural Products Co-op, sources ingredients directly from small farmers at fair prices and donates 1% of sales to improve the lives of small farmers. You can download a coupon for $1 off the baking mix here and read more about the values of this company here.
I wrote about 31 Bits here. I love this company! All jewelry is hand-made by Ugandan woman who are pre-paid at a fair and sustainable wage. 31 Bits also provides programs like English lessons, finance training, and vocational training to its workers to help alleviate poverty and stimulate local economy. Read more here.
I found this via Serrv, a new-to-me site on a " mission to eradicate poverty wherever it resides by providing opportunity and support to artisans and farmers worldwide." This particular gift comes from CCAP, a Filipino fair trade organization that has been marketing the crafts of marginalized artisans since 1973.
Do you know of any sources for products that support small farmers and/or artisans? Please share in the comments!
Can I share a bit of my heart with you? If you read this blog, I'm guessing I can, so...
here it is.
Wandering through, or even passing the candy aisles during Easter (or really any holiday season) often leaves me feeling pretty sad.
I start thinking about how all that festive, sugary, delicious, bright-colored candy got in those aisles, who had to work for it, how young they are, how they are living and how much of all that hard work is going to sell in the name of celebration.
I can't even picture how many kids are involved, and I hate it.
I'm not trying to ruin the holidays for you. I'm not trying to make anyone feel bad. I'm just trying to say...
Maybe we can celebrate better this year.
One of the (many) thing(s) I LOVE about fair trade is that the products tend to be of higher quality than their cheaper versions. You can taste it, feel it, smell it. Fair trade offers a higher quality of life for the producer and the consumer.
"Fair trade" doesn't mean everything purchased has to be certified as such, but it does require some extra thought. Maybe buy fair trade versions of the some common baking products- cocoa, sugar, and vanilla
and then make your own Easter treats like...
You can even make your own Cadbury Eggs!!
Go an unconventional route.
I'm 26 years old and my mother still puts together (and hides!) and Easter basket for me. This year, she talked with me about what I might want in it because she knows I'm not a fan of the typical candy. My requests? Nut butter (any kind, so long as it's just nuts and maybe salt) and Larabars (I love these! They contain easily recognizable ingredients, and the ones that contain chocolate and sugar are fair trade certified.)
I'm not sure there's an end to the unconventional treats you could come up with, but a few ideas for kids include:
- coloring books and crayons
- a new book
- stuffed animal
- finger puppets
- play dough or silly putty
- sidewalk chalk
- temporary tattoos
And if buying Easter sweets is your thing, I have a post or two coming up on that,too!
I love Saturdays.
I LOVE them.
Yoga, fair trade work,family time.
[Insert sigh of happiness.]
This past Saturday, I re-discovered The Justice Conference that took place over the weekend. (I was following them on Twitter, but don't remember discovering them in the first place!) Thoughts of "I wish I had known about this sooner," followed by "Oh, I guess I did," followed by, "Maybe I forgot because going to Portland would have been WAY too expensive for me" resulted in me following along through hashtags. (You can click here if you want to follow me.)
THE JUSTICE CONFERENCE is a two–day annual event to promote dialogue around justice related issues such as human trafficking, slavery, poverty, HIV/AIDS and human rights, featuring internationally acclaimed speakers, hundreds of humanitarian organizations and dozens of pre-conference workshops. [source]
Conferences are one more thing I love.
I love the refreshment and the challenging that happens when a big group of people with similar but varying passions come together.
I love meeting so many of those people.
I love hearing about issues that get at my heart from people who know much more than me.
It's been awhile since I've been to a conference. The travel, the eating out, the hotels, + the conference fee is just too much for me to handle right now.
But you guys. Next year's Justice Conference is happening in Philly. Philly is close enough to cut way down on expenses AND I was able to get the early bird rate (which is a really, really good rate, by the way.)
So I signed up...and then was immediately was unable to focus on anything else.
I am SO excited.
Do you want to go, too?
Find out more here.
Get early bird rates here.
Maybe I'll see you there?
The most frequently asked question I get on my "courage" project is, "so, what do you do?" (Quotations used because, as I've mentioned before, I'm finding that courage isn't really involved in this project at the moment. It was the starting of things that required courage, and after that? None required so far.)
I'm about a month into things, and so far, no website to document the process. People are curious.
I'll tell you that more time is going to pass before I can show you a new website. I think I went into all of this thinking that the site would be the main project, but so far, that hasn't been the case.
On Saturday mornings, I attend a yoga class. I shower, set myself up with some food, a hot drink, and water, and then I work.
"Work" is really not an accurate description because I enjoy every minute, the time flies by, and it is the kind of effort that gives me energy.
So far, my work time means I spend a lot of time gathering information. There is so much information to be found and absorbed. I'm pretty sure there will always be more to be found, and right now, I am a veritable sponge. I conduct interviews. I read articles, news reports, and product information.
I also spend my time planning and researching events, articles to be written, and ways to spread the fabulous-ness that is fair trade chocolate without getting too preachy about it. (I recently gave away 69 Equal Exchange Valentines. It was a super easy project. Assemble Valentines, hand them out, let the chocolate speak for itself. <---it's really good chocolate.)
The website will come. In fact, I'm working on that, too.
But it looks like it will be an overflow of what is already going on, rather than the main event.
So there you have it a snap shot of what I do for a few hours on Saturdays. Are there any questions you're curious about that I left unanswered?