I recently ran across a local, independent store called My Fair Trade Lady. I am so excited about what I found. The shop is in Haddon Heights, N.J. (an easy 20-minute ride across the bridge from Philadelphia) and sells fairly traded, eco-friendly and sustainable men's and women's accessories, apparel, home goods, coffee, chocolate, original art and more from around the world.
I found at least a dozen items that I wanted to buy on the spot, but I refrained. Instead, I created a photo wish list and sent it off to my boys for my upcoming birthday. Among the many items I loved were useful, beautiful kitchen items, many of them made from recycled materials. All of them come with a story about the people who make them and how the money earned from their labors improves their lives.
The bowls pictured above are handmade by artisans in Nepal, using recycled food wrappers. The artisans work through jeevanKala and get paid fairly for their work. All profits made by jeevanKala provide healthcare, education and income generation programs to some of the neediest people in Nepal. The bowls range from $18-$30, depending on size.
Fair trade salt pot, handmade in Kenya. $14.
Artisans in Kahero Farm, 10 miles above the equator, make these salt pots from saved brown olive tree stumps. The trees were cut down decades ago. The artisans are paid a fair price in advance for their products and work in safe working conditions.
Peace bowl, handmade in Moradabad, India. $22.
Although it looks flat because of the angle of my photo, this is a functional bowl and can be used to store fresh produce. The bowls are made from recycled metals using simple hand tools. The skill for making these bowls is passed down from one generation to the next. The artisans are paid fairly and promptly for their work that they do in safe and healthy conditions. Money raised creates opportunities for the workers and helps to preserve traditional art.
Flex bowl, handmade Moradabad, India. $26
The same artisans who make the peace bowl make this flex bowl. It can be shaped into several different configurations, making it a bowl for produce one day and a stand for fresh muffins or cookies the next.
Napkin rings, handmade in Machakos, Kenya.
Carving is a tradition in Kenya that is passed down from parent to child. These animal napkin rings are hand-carved in the traditional method using rudimentary hand tools. The wood carvings provide a major income for the people in the region.
Cereal box jewelry, handmade in Haddon Heights, N.J.
Recycled, handmade items that receive a fair price don't have to be made halfway around the world. These bracelets are made in a shop right around the corner from My Fair Trade Lady by a local artist who collects cereal boxes, granola bar boxes and others and makes beads for jewelry out of them.
Donna Gottardi is the owner of My Fair Trade Lady. Here, she stands in front of a map of the world. On the map are colored pins showing the regions of the world she’s visited and the regions where the fair trade products she sells originate.
Donna is a professor at St. Joseph’s and Rutgers universities where she teaches sociology and cultural anthropology. Her research and interests are in social justice and My Fair Trade Lady is a natural offshoot of her travels, teachings and passions. She’s seen the good that fair trade can do on the ground, and she wanted to give people in the South Jersey/Philly region an opportunity and a venue to purchase these beautiful, useful fair trade items so their purchases can do good all around the world.
My Fair Trade Lady is located at 531 Station Avenue, Haddon Heights, N.J. Donna hopes to have an online store up and running as soon as possible for those who aren't nearby.
Until then, if these beautiful items and their stories have whet your appetite for buying fair trade and you aren’t in the South Jersey/Philly region, check out the online marketplace of Ten Thousand Villages or the clothing and accessories of Fair Indigo.
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