While this great article from Delmarva Now is about Berlin, it does a wonderful job at highlighting fair trade retailers and explaining the importance of fair trade. We have posted it below for you all to give it a read. Enjoy!
BERLIN — When someone buys a Fair Trade silk scarf at Berlin’s Bungalow Love, they are helping a family-owned business half a world away, the Handloom Weavers Development Society in Kerala, India.
Bungalow Love features Fair Trade handbags from India and Cambodia made from recycled materials like plastic feed sacks and burlap bags. The store also offers cotton handbags from a cooperative in the Barmer region of Rajasthan, India, printed with designs from wooden hand blocks.
Fair Trade jewelry at the store from Kenya and Uganda helps those affected by the ravages of longtime wars. Widowed women make paper beads, while disabled men make ceramic ones, giving both groups a sustainable living.
Heather Layton, owner of Bungalow Love, opened her William Street shop in 2009 with the intention of carrying Fair Trade goods.
“I was raised on the Fair Trade concept,” she said. “I’ve always had a spot in my heart for Fair Trade. I want to make sure that the person making an item is making a fair wage.
“I think that every purchase should have a meaning or benefit. With Fair Trade, you’re not only buying a cute gift for a friend, but you’re helping someone in another part of the world that you’ll never meet.”
Fair Trade is a simple concept. The movement is basically an economic system that provides opportunities for the underprivileged in developing countries to lift themselves out of poverty.
Three Fair Trade businesses are active on Delmarva — Made by Hand International Cooperative in South Bethany Beach, Bungalow Love in Berlin and Common Grounds Coffee House in Salisbury.
Kimberly Grimes opened Made by Hand International Cooperative in South Bethany Beach in 1996. As an applied anthropologist, she wanted to take the knowledge she had about world cultures and try to solve some of their problems. She saw money being raised to help underdeveloped countries wasn’t getting to the people who needed it.
“My interest has always been about alleviating poverty,” Grimes said. “I believe it is the key to eradicating problems on earth. If people have an opportunity to work and be paid fairly, they have the hope of creating a better future for themselves. We could see the disappearance of war and conflict around the world.”
Before she opened her store, Grimes and her husband, Marco Hernandez, attended Fair Trade conferences for several years and evaluated “does this really work?” When they visited a village in Guatemala where there were active Fair Trade businesses, they saw that it does.
“The kids in the village had healthy bodies and wore school uniforms,” Grimes said. “There was a striking difference in non-Fair Trade villages where the children were digging in the garbage for something to eat.”
According to Grimes, the Fair Trade concept started with crafts and the women who make those crafts. Once women had their own incomes, they gained the respect of their husbands and villages. The women built schools, taught their neighbors and families their craft and ended up empowering their communities.
The movement cuts out middlemen — who traditionally make most of the profits in commerce — and allows small producers and the stores that sell their goods to work together directly.
These stores work directly with artisans and farmers in developing countries, and the Fair Trade designation is a guarantee to consumers that producers are paid fair prices.
The Fair Trade movement later branched out to include farmers and agricultural products, including the volatile coffee market.
Tri Townsend opened the Common Grounds Fair Trade Coffee Shop four years ago with the motto, “Making a difference one cup at a time.” He chose the Fair Trade route because of ethics.
“Our coffee and chocolate is 100 percent Fair Trade, and 98 percent of our teas are,” Townsend said. “We buy through the Equal Exchange in Massachusetts.”
“We went to Fair Trade because of ethics,” Townsend continued. “We are a 3-star Certified Green Restaurant, and part of that certification is our suppliers.”
More information of the fair trade movement is available atwww.fairtradefederation.org.