Looking for a unique way to show your love? Whether you're a hopeless romantic or you’re all about that love-yourself vibe this Valentine’s Day, choosing Fair Trade shares the love with artisans and farmers around the world.
While it may be convenient to grab the first bunch of roses you see at the grocery store (trust me, we’ve all been there), 80% of cut flowers sold in the US are a product of child labor, insufficient wages, and dangerous working conditions. Nothing says “Happy Valentine’s Day” like worker exploitation, right? Don’t worry, there’s good news! There are a variety of Fair Trade flower organizations that are dedicated to safe, sustainable practices! Click here for a list!
Looking for flowers that won’t die and will live on forever like your endless love for each other? We’ve got you covered!
RECYCLED SARI FLOWERS
Check out these Recycled Sari Flowers from Bangladesh’s Nilphamari District. Each flower is made from a real recycled sari, so no two flowers are alike! In this area of Bangladesh, the primary job option is to work for rich farmers who pay extremely low wages for difficult labor. Through Fair Trade, this group of women artisans can develop skills and work for a fair wage with healthcare benefits. Pro Tip: If you have a loved one in the hospital, these flowers are perfect as they do not need to be cared for, and the wire stem can easily wrap around the end of a bed!
Felt Flowers are handcrafted in Nepal by a Fair Trade group called Hamro Village that is representative of Nepal’s 47 different ethnic groups. Artisans focus on reducing waste, regenerating nature and recycling end-use products. Their goal is to not just survive, but to excel through their artistic talents. Create a unique bouquet of sunflowers, roses, lilies, lavender, and tulips, or go for the classic red rose. Thanks to a flexible wire stem, you can get creative with this bouquet arrangement.
FABRIC BEADED FLOWERS
Spruce up your home with these Fabric Flowers that never wilt. These fabric flowers have 10" wire stems that can be twisted to create whimsical designs or buy them in a bunch for a beautiful bouquet. Imani Workshops is a Fair Trade organization that provides critical care and job opportunities to people with HIV. Over 90% of the people they employ are women.
In case Fair Trade chocolate isn’t sweet enough, Divine Chocolate is the only Fair Trade chocolate company in the world that is co-owned by cocoa farmers! This Chocolate Flight of Mini-Bars (no, sorry, not that kind of mini-bar) includes Dark Raspberry, 70% Dark, Milk with Toffee & Sea Salt, White Strawberry, 85% Dark, and Milk. This is the perfect gift for those of us who don’t exactly remember what our significant other’s favorite chocolate is. (It’s okay, we won’t tell.)
The farmers in Ghana get a share in Divine’s profits, a say in the company, and a voice in the global marketplace. Every bar of chocolate funds projects such as women’s literacy, leadership, model farm programs, and community building. About two million children work on conventional cocoa farms, and almost half of these children are not enrolled in school. Fair Trade organizations prohibit child labor and provide educational opportunities.
Here's a fun one for those of us who care about what we put into our bodies and our environment (even when we’re cramming chocolate into our faces): “Fair Trade standards prohibit certain harmful chemicals and provide a framework for environmental sustainability,” unlike conventional cocoa companies which “expose cocoa farmers to numerous hazards, including dangerous tools, dust, flames or smoke, hazardous chemicals, and physically demanding labor” (Fair Trade Campaigns, 2018). (Have I convinced you yet?)
Does your partner think you have a heart of stone? Now they do! These simple heart paperweights are handmade by Kisii artisans in Kenya. they are hand-carved out of soapstone and dyed and etched with meaningful words. The artisan cooperative group is called Tabaka, which exists to empower artisans and eradicate suffering in the area by providing fair wages and global marketing opportunities for their products.
These same artisans also create a “Work in Progress” heart, which encourage you to embrace the process of being a work in progress. It’s a commitment, not an excuse. As Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” These natural stone hearts are hand-carved with a machete.
In the Amazon jungle, the Shipibo indigenous community struggles to maintain their traditional customs. To make ends meet, the younger population must often leave their native land to find work in the city, as the cocoa harvest only lasts through the early months of the year. They end up working for dangerous, illegal mining companies with low pay, long hours, and a high mortality rate. Silver Tree Designs is a fair trade organization that provides a sustainable income to this population. Butterflies native to the Amazon are raised during the off-season of the cocoa harvest, and as they complete their natural life cycle, their wings are collected and turned into brilliant one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry. As the caterpillars hatch, they are taken out into the jungle to feed on the wild plants while increasing the jungle’s biodiversity. The wings are cut, pressed between glass making the piece reversible, and then framed in silver. The Amazon jungle is illegally logged for mahogany, but this vital source of income helps protect the tribal lands and ensure the future of the indigenous community. Artisans receive a salary, a flexible schedule, an annual bonus, paid sick and vacation time, and overtime pay.
Pair this journal with a bottle of wine and you’ve got the perfect gift! This intricate journal can track every bottle you share together, from one special occasion to the next. The 100% tree-free recycled cotton paper is made by a traditional process in Rajasthan, India. A wheel press breaks down the cotton fibers and the cotton soaks overnight. The artisans strain the pulp, press it into pages and hang it to dry. The water is reused in irrigation after the process is complete. The artisans belong to a minority group called Kagzis who are provided with training, education, and health assistance. Due to the handmade nature of this art, many people in the community are provided with this career opportunity.
P.S. Check out this Beer Journal!
Look super cultured and artsy by giving a piece of art as a greeting card!
Quilling is an ancient art believed to be from Egypt originally. It is the art of rolled, shaped, and glued paper that creates a unified design. The name comes from birds’ feathers, or quills, which were used to coil the strips of paper around in the ancient art. A team of over 500 Vietnamese women create these quilling cards, allowing them an opportunity to grow and sustain their business in a stable, safe work environment with housing, healthcare, and food benefits. Team members with disabilities are given the opportunity to work, which otherwise would not be possible due to a lack of societal aid.
Special Thanks To:
Ten Thousand Villages
Silver Tree Designs
Fair Trade Campaigns