Solving the worlds biggest problems…
simply by changing your mind.
At one time or another, we have all wondered what it would take to make the world a better place. Two critical issues our world faces today are world poverty and the state of our environment. Are you ready to do more than just think about it? More than talk, write, march and sing about it? Let’s get started actually doing. Not tomorrow or next week, but today.
When considering these issues, you should begin by reflecting on these very simple notions.
1. If all producers had the same ability to market and ship their goods, all the while receiving fair, equitable prices we would not see the extreme levels of disparity evident in wealth distribution throughout the world. Simply put, we would not have the poverty seen today.
2. Most of the environmental issues we face today started with the industrial revolution. I’m no historian, and can’t produce a page full of mind-numbing facts, but you can imagine that without cars, planes, factories and factory farms the issues of global warming, polluted water systems, landfills and fracking would not be the concerns they are today.
Making a choice to avoid mass produced, shoddy goods is a big, positive first step. We can follow that with a vigilant effort to choose old-fashioned quality goods, the kind that are made using traditional, so-called slower methods. Finally, by making a conscious choice to live with a bit less, using all our belongings through the intended life, and then finding ways to repurpose and reuse them to their fullest, we will have come full circle in finding workable, realistic solutions to both of these issues.
This is where Fair Trade and Upcycled Goods comes in. The accepted, simplistic definition of Fair Trade is, an organized social movement whose stated goal is to help producers in developing countries achieve better trading conditions and promote sustainability. Members of the movement advocate the payment of fair prices, as well as higher social and environmental standards. This in turn works to promote better working conditions. Fair Trade isn’t just coffee and chocolate any more. Fair Trade is clothing, accessories, household goods, home decor, jewelry, furniture and much more.
Upcycled goods are made using discarded or previously used components to create something of higher value. It takes far less energy than recycling and prevents many objects from reaching landfill prematurely. Many Fair Trade items are upcycled, but not all. All Fair Trade goods are created using environmental best practices.
There are currently hundreds of recognized Fair Trade organizations worldwide. One beautiful example of Fair Trade can be seen when looking at Himalayan Weavers. The organization was founded by Patricia and Ghayur Alam, in 2005 to promote environmentally friendly products and the ancient arts of hand spinning and weaving. Located in the foothills of the mountains, they work with two local groups, the Bhotias and the Jaunpuris, known as legendary traders, shepherds, spinners and weavers. Mass produced mill products, led to a severe decline in traditional wool craftsmanship. Himalayan Weavers works to preserve these traditions and provide a much needed income stream for these marginalized groups. The scarves and shawls produced by this organization are made from 100% natural, locally sourced wool, pashmina and eri (peace) silk and are colored in house using all natural dyes and small batch methods. Find them at: himalayanweavers.org.
Learning the importance of quality over quantity is critical to halting the destruction of our planet.
Choosing fairly traded goods helps to develop third world countries, providing income for food, shelter, sanitation, clean water and education.
This all begins when we give up our current mentality and stop making poor choices.
Educating the public on actual workable solutions will create conscientious consumers.
Ruth A Johnston is founder of A World of Goods; the first online marketplace created exclusively for Fair Trade & Upcycled Goods. Organizations, craftsmen and artisans can list, sell and ship goods from around the world. The site: aworldofgoods.com officially launches November 1, 2014.