coop

giveaway: $25 Amani ya Juu Gift Card


Did you see Friday's post about fair trade organization, Amani ya Juu? If not, make sure to read my review of their beautiful Olive Branch spoon set and then head back here to read more about the company and enter a giveaway.

(Coincidentally, Friday's post fell on Daniel's and my fifth wedding anniversary. We didn't realize it then, but it's traditional to give your beloved something made of wood on your fifth anniversary, so it was rather fitting that I chose to review the most beautiful wooden spoons on that day.)

And now for the last two interview questions and responses:

Do employees "graduate" from Amani or do you find that many of them stay on long term?


Amani is committed to holistic development. Women gain experience in stitching, quality control, purchasing, bookkeeping, management and design. As new women enter the program they are mentored in quality workmanship with strong emphasis on ethical business practices and harmonious relationships with people of different backgrounds. 
Due to the circumstances affecting marginalized women, the ladies who come through our doors are in a very transient stage of life. They often move to to another city or return to their home country. Those who stay often move up in the ranks, training others, begin to oversee a certain department, or earn an administrative position. Some receive loans from us and start their own small businesses. Others apply for our scholarship program and further their education.

Besides making a purchase, what are the best ways for us to support Amani ya Juu?


Spread the word. Following us and sharing about us on social media is huge.  Introducing us to new people means more opportunities for consistent, sustainable livelihood for the ladies in Africa. Signing up for our e-newsletter blasts is also a great way to stay connected if you think you might want to purchase from us in the future (Christmas is only 165 days away!).  
Volunteer.  Host an Amani Box Party in your home, church, school or other community event.  Box Parties play a vital role in sustaining the women of Amani and in spreading God’s peace in your community.  Contact: volunteer@amaniafrica.org. 
Pray.  [If you're the praying sort,] join with us in praying that God’s peace will reign in Amani communities everywhere. 
Donate.  Support Amani’s work in extending God’s peace beyond her walls.  Donate online.
Amani is offering a $25 gift card to one lucky reader. Just enter via the form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
The contest will run until 11:59 pm this Sunday, July 20, 2015. 
Open to US readers only.

the moral wardrobe: all the neutrals

thrifted outfit
betula by birkenstock
minimalist neutrals
the moral wardrobe: all the neutrals
Ethical Details: Tee - Everlane; Cardigan - thrifted; Necklace - handmade via etsy; Sandals: Betula by Birkenstock*

I went through a couple of outfit changes to get to this one, but I'm so happy with the result. I used to avoid warm colors and neutrals, but I think last year's experiments with hair color helped me get a sense of what suits my complexion. I love coppery brown tones that highlight my natural hair color (isn't it crazy that I hadn't seen my natural hair color in all its glory for something like three years?).

I think my orientation to the fair trade industry has shifted slightly in the last few months. I'm trying to find and highlight more brands that are both fair trade and sustainable, because I think it's silly to avoid the inevitable conversation between the two movements. Additionally, I'm increasingly convinced that supporting factories with ethical labor standards in countries like China is just as important as supporting fair trade; they reform different parts of the same industry and I think supporting them in tandem is the way to go. Not everyone can be supported by a fair trade co-op. If there's greater consumer demand for well-maintained factories, more people can find good work. There are a lot of moving parts and it's easy to get overwhelmed, but I'm glad to know I can make choices that help.

*Betula sandals are made in Spain, where labor standards are high and regularly enforced. Parent company, Birkenstock, makes efforts to reduce energy and materials waste.

chocolate for valentine's day

equal exchange
image source: Equal Exchange

I'm not really sure why bloggers write weeks of Valentine's Day content considering that the holiday is really just a blip on the holiday schedule. That being said, I think now is maybe the best time to talk about my favorite fair trade food: chocolate.

While fair trade fashion is my first passion, I truly believe that it can't end there. I want to tread lightly in every aspect of my lifestyle and I'm looking to make fair trade and environmentally sustainable items my first choice in every category. I think it's really easy for self described "conscious consumers" to draw lines around our pet project for the sake of our own sanity - it's hard to make better choices all the time from Day One - but we have to remember that environmental and social sustainability are both necessary if we intend to build thriving, considerate communities.

Without further ado, I'll get off my soapbox and present you with my favorite fair trade and sustainable chocolate products:

Equal Exchange


This company was love at first sight (well, taste) for me. Equal Exchange believes in small scale farms and collective ownership; every employee is a part owner. Relying on small, locally run co-ops allows the company to make accurate judgments as to the condition and fairness of work and wages and it also discourages wide scale destruction of native landscapes. I worked at a coffee shop that used Equal Exchange coffee and a representative came to give us steamed milk training (which I loved!). It was great to be able to talk to an employee and get a better sense of the work environment.


equal



Divine Chocolate


This is my second favorite chocolate company. Divine also operates under a co-op structure, with the Ghanaian farmers owning shares in the larger company. They were the first fair trade chocolate bar that attempted to compete in the non-specialty chocolate market and, by all accounts, they've been pretty successful.

n



If you're hunting for the perfect chocolate-y recipes, I suggest:

Or...

Buy some fair trade chocolate hearts at 20% off.

I hope you feel loved this Valentine's Day. And if you're looking for a meaningful movie suggestion, I recommend Take This Waltz.

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Read more ethical Valentine's Day posts:


Valentine's Day - All the Romance Without the Consumerism
by Hannah at Life + Style + Justice