The holidays are right around the corner and, for better or worse, that usually means shopping for presents. Have you bought all your presents yet? I haven’t… despite good intentions of having everything sorted by the end of November, the procrastinator in me got the best (well, that and my 2 young’uns) and I still have a way to go.
Anyone who knows me most likely knows how passionate I am about Fair Trade and Organic products. In fact, before becoming a stay at home mom, I was working for a Fair Trade non-profit organisation. Now, I’m not going to go into all the details about Fair Trade here, and I will not lecture you, but how cool would it be if you made a difference through your purchases this holiday season? How wonderful would it be if you not only bought excellent quality products, but also helped ensure those producing them were doing so under fair labour conditions and without resorting to modern slavery (see here, here, here, here and here) to produce them ?
You may be familiar with the Fairtrade label on food products in supermarkets (think coffee, tea, chocolate, bananas – these are the main food products), but did you know you could also buy these at Fair Trade shops, known as World Shops? Did you know there are also Fair Trade handicrafts? And may I add that they are beautiful? Really, they are perfect for gift-giving!
Some of you may think, well, I already buy Fair Trade products at the supermarket, I’m doing my part. But let me just tell you why it’s also important to buy from these shops: the people doing the work, getting the message out, many (if not most) times donating their time and ability to promote Fair Trade. A supermarket is anonymous, a Fair Trade shop is not. These are mostly small, relying heavily on volunteers.
I went out to my local Fair Trade shop – an Oxfam World Shop in Schaerbeek – to do some shopping and buy some presents – handicrafts and chocolates mostly – and took some pictures to show you.
This is just a sample, really. There are many more in and around Brussels, not only Oxfam, but many others. Some even have a small resto/coffee shop where you could try their products (like here).
In a time of gift-giving, will your gifts be Fair?