As I began writing last Friday's post about consumerism and the Christian woman, I knew I wanted to find some affordable options for promoting ethical, fair-trade products that don't cater to an affluent western lifestyle. I truly do believe that one can invest in justice without paying a high price for luxury items (and no matter which way I try to cut it, a distressed leather tote for $200 is a luxury item when one lives on a modest, month-to-month budget).
With that in mind, here are five places you can put your purchasing power. I will be straight up and say I've only patronized a couple of these (to be honest, just buying underwear for the 5 year old is a nerve-wracking exercise in exchange rates). Like you, I want to be wise, do my research and intentionally steward where I put my resources. These are shops I've been following online and reading about the work they do, and with products under $40, I'm putting them on my wish list for the future.
1) Krochet Kids
Are you following along with Kristen from Rage Against the Minivan as she tours the international headquarters of Krochet Kids in Peru? They offer a wide variety of apparel and accessories, but I'm most in favour of their line of winter caps and beanies. With nearly all hats priced between $20-30, and with every item signed by the woman who made it, this is a fantastic investment in a holistic, sustainable organisation.
2) The Jesus Feminist Collection
Blogger and author Sarah Bessey has partnered with Imagine Goods to produce a small line of goods inspired by her book of the same name. My favourite is the Jesus Feminist Necklace (this is already on my wish-list <cough> Matt <cough>), but I also love the hand-lettered prints (see above). Also? 100% of the profits are given by Sarah Bessey to support Heartline Ministries and Help One Now.
3) Lisa Leonard Designs
I've recently become acquainted with Lisa's work through her storytelling for Compassion International. Lisa started her own jewelry business so she could stay home with her two young boys. Her pieces are all handmade in Ecuador and the Dominican Republic, with a unique and customizable flair. Read about her affordable, fair-trade collection or browse her under-$50 pieces.
Need I say more? You control the price, the location, the shop and there are thousands of vendors to choose from. Etsy is also a "Certified B Corporation," with a mission to bring "heart to commerce and making the world more fair, more sustainable, and more fun." I love to find items that speak specifically to our family's journey, especially this Chicago Art City Heart Map or the I Love Kansas City Wood Block Art Print. I don't know who this guy is, but it's handmade, eco-friendly, and wood. Can't go wrong with that.
5) Shop Local
Some of my most treasured gifts have come from craft fairs like Ten Thousand Villages in KC or all natural soap from the farmer's market that doesn't make my sin crawl with eczema. Flea markets, charity shops or craft fairs will offer local, handmade products, allowing you to support artisans and companies in your own backyard. And without the cost of shipping or staff overhead, prices have a tendency to be much lower. I will defer to the local charity shop or market nearly every gift-giving time. Google or check community newsletters to see what's in your area.
This is just a tiny smattering in a great big ocean of fair-trade business, so I'm dependent on you to help me out. Do you have a favourite company, gift or organisation? Tell us what affordable products and ethical companies you think we should support.
PS - None of this is sponsored by any of the above companies. But I wouldn't turn it down. (I kid.)