valentines day

Love Mert: Carry Your Heart on Your Pouch

Love Mert Love Pouch - made in USA, ethical valentines day gift
This post was sponsored by Love Mert and I received an item for review. 

Love is in the air...

I was a shy kid who didn't date, at all really. I gave out the obligatory Valentine's Day cards in elementary school and daydreamed about the boys I liked professing their love for me through middle school. That never happened, so by high school I was sort of burnt out on Valentine's Day. Without the romance, it's just an awkward, brooding, excruciating 24 hours.

Junior year, I decided to make a change. I wrapped up little chocolates in colorful tissue paper pouches and gave them to friends and classmates. I put them in the choir cubbies, too. I started singing with the "Singing Valentines," delivering Doo-wop love songs to kids in the middle of their classes. I started spreading the love, and it made Valentine's Day feel like something joyous and generous for the first time.
  Love Mert Love Pouch - made in USA, ethical valentines day giftLove Mert Love Pouch - made in USA, ethical valentines day gift

It would be easy, and valid, to say that Valentine's Day is just a commercial holiday, a way to sell overpriced candy and flowers to suckers who can't see through manipulative advertising. But by turning it into a broad celebration of love in all its forms, I think it can be a powerful reminder that #lovetrumpshate.

Love Mert designer, Melissa, is spreading the love this season with her collection of Love pouches and purses made from salvaged and vintage materials in the USA. 

The Love Mert collection combines artistry and attention to detail with responsible sourcing, so base materials are local, upcycled, or deadstock. As a lover of secondhand and vintage fashion, I appreciate how well the mission of Love Mert aligns with my own. The Love Mert collection is comprised of creative new designs by an American designer, but also utilizes forgotten materials. It's sustainable in every way because it ties the secondhand market to the artisan market. Plus, by using upcycled leather, the end consumer can rest assured that their purchase did not contribute to animal cruelty. Learn more about Melissa's inspiration and design here.
  Love Mert Love Pouch - made in USA, ethical valentines day gift
Ethical Details: Hat - Vintage via Low in Charlottesville; Sweater - Everlane; Jeans - old, redyed; Boots - Po-Zu; Necklace - Hands Producing Hope; Love Pouch in Brushed Gold/Gold - c/o Love MertLove Mert Love Pouch - made in USA, ethical valentines day gift

I paired the Love Pouch in Brushed Gold/Gold with a seed necklace by Hands Producing Hope and a lovely little 1960s hat I picked up at a local vintage store. I don't dress up very often these days, but I think that the hot pink sweater paired with vintage-inspired accessories makes for a Valentine's Day appropriate look without all the fuss.

The Love Mert pouch comes in several colors and retails for $32.00. If you're looking for a purse instead, Melissa makes Love Bags, too! You can see all the colors by going to the Handbags category of the site.

Do you celebrate Valentine's Day (or Galentines Day)? What are your traditions?


Shop Love Mert

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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.


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.


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


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.


Read more ethical Valentine's Day posts:

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

ethical gifting: tonle for valentine's day

gift box

So, I kind of hate the word, "gifting," but its specificity makes it awfully convenient.  However, I love gifts, so I'm quite excited to share Tonle's Valentine's Day Gift Box, which they've put together in collaboration with several other socially responsible companies.

You may recall from my post earlier this week that Tonle is a zero waste, fair trade company based in Cambodia. I think their commitment to fair wages and environmental sustainability represents the end goal for the fair trade movement, so I'm glad they're setting an example for everyone else.

valentines day gift

The box contains coconut oil scrub by Coco Khmer, Remy & Rose soap, 3 pairs of Tonle panties, and a Tonle necklace made of remnant fabric and locally sourced beads, wrapped up in packaging handmade by artisans at Dai Khmer. It also comes with a handmade card! Visit the site for more details on the companies involved.

The gift box's retail value is $88.00, but it's available for a limited time for $65.00 on Tonle's website, so grab one early.

all natural coconut oil
All photos courtesy of Tonle.