Today I received my very first Darn Good Yarn of the Month subscription package in the mail. (Insert angels singing here!). Usually $20/month, you can get this package for only $10/month plus shipping when you subscribe on a month-to-month basis. Click here to view the yarn of the month page! Now, I was expecting yarn but what I wasn’t expecting were all the extras! I mean what in the world?! A crochet hook and 5 knitting needles, plus a free pattern for this month in both knit and crochet versions. How in the world could anyone not have told me about this before?! (Yeah, maybe if I would have read the description on the site I would have known, but whatever- I like surprises!).
My favorite part, though, is what I’m supporting when I give my measly $10 each month. I have to admit that I spent a lot of time not really aware of what “fair trade” meant or that it even existed. We all know a lot of bad things go on during the production of so many of our imported goods and we all have to buy stuff, so it’s almost in self-defense that we keep our eyes down and look away from the reality of what goes on oceans away. Today, though, I hope to shed some light on how you can get involved and make a real difference in the lives of so many real women.
So what is fair trade, anyway and why does it matter? Let’s talk.
“fair trade” is defined as:
trade in which fair prices are paid to producers in developing countries
Products made through fair trade are made with respect to people and our planet. Developing communities all over the world have improved their quality of life thanks to fair trade! During the production process, companies reach out to locals, often living in poverty that you and I couldn’t even begin to comprehend, and pay them fairly to help create their product. There is a commitment to non-discrimination, there is no forced or child labor, women are being empowered (!) where they often have little to no rights or value, there is complete gender equality, the production process is environmentally-friendly and working conditions are safe. Sounds the way it should always be anyway, doesn’t it? Well, sadly it isn’t. The realities of what goes on beyond our knowledge is horrifying and hard to process. Even companies like Nesquik are guilty of using child labor to keep up production (using child slaves on cocoa farms in unspeakably harsh conditions)! It turns my stomach to know that while my kids were sucking down cold chocolate milk in our home with heat and air conditioning, kids close to their age were being forced to work harder than we can imagine to produce more of what we were consuming “just because”. Now, I won’t dig deep into this or name off all the companies I know about that operate under extremely UNfair trade -though it’s tempting- but I hope this example helps solidify the reality of working conditions for so many overseas. THIS is why fair trade matters. This is why it deserves your attention and your compassion.
About Darn Good Yarn
Darn Good Yarn was founded by Nicole Snow in 2008; she was on a mission to weave together two of her passions- art and helping others. She began Darn Good Yarn to create fair and sustainable jobs for women around the globe. The majority of production is held in India where working conditions are often very unsafe. Thanks to Nicole, these women are able to provide for themselves and their families by working in a safe environment and making a difference by recycling on a large scale. Manufacturing remnants and sari seconds are recycled into stunning art yarns and ribbons- hand-torn and sewn together for a strong and beautiful product. More than 100,000 pounds of textile waste has been saved from landfills by the hands of these women! What an awesome achievement!
What Else Can We Do?
So many organizations and businesses out there are getting involved and making it easier for those of us in comfy and convenient America (and other countries, of course) get involved.
- Knowledge is power. The utmost important thing you can do is to make yourself aware of what you are supporting when you make a purchase. It’s free: dig around on the internet and get some information. Head to the library if you don’t have internet or a computer device and use theirs or find some literature on the subject. When you are knowledgeable about what you are supporting, you hold the power to literally change the lives of so many people out there!
- Buy local when you have the opportunity. Farmer’s markets and craft fairs are your BFF.
- Reduce, reuse and recycle. Cut down on the amount of mass-produced items you consume and lessen pollution at the same time. Purchasing things like reusable “unpaper towels”, cloth/resuable menstrual supplies (check Etsy for great handmade options or Diva Cup and alternative brands), cloth diapers and refillable tumblers instead of plastic bottled water. These are just a few ways you can get started!
- Treat yourself with gorgeous hand crafted items from fair trade companies. Of course I love anything and everything DIY, but the reality is that we can’t make everything we need or want to decorate our homes with. You can read about the story behind Darn Good Yarn by clicking here, and check out all they have to offer from yarn to clothing to home decor. Find other companies who are involved with fair trade through Fair Trade USA!
A little goes a long way.
I know it doesn’t always feel like much, but every little bit helps. Each time we support fair trade, we are helping secure the future of people we will likely never meet but who would thank you from the depths of their heart if they had the chance. I’m excited to start my journey working hard to fight for the respect of men, women and children all over the world by making the decision to pause before I purchase and make myself aware of what cycle I am taking part in by spending my hard-earned money. Is it a cycle where everyone wins? Or a cycle where people are abused and underpaid in order to put that new shirt in my closet? I would rather live with less and spend my money carefully than to remain in the cycle that hurts others.