Throughout the world, many of those who were fortunate enough to find employment find themselves forced to accept poor working conditions and abysmal wages. In our increasingly globalized world, it’s more important than ever for consumers (us) to consider how our everyday items make their way to us.
By using our purchasing power as a leveraging tool, we can help to ensure that equality and sustainability are literally woven into the threads of our wardrobe (and welded into the seams of our jewelry), thereby helping those most vulnerable around the world. Let’s take a look at how fair trade jewelry can empower you — and your wardrobe — and thus empower those who need it most around the world.
What Is Fair Trade?
It’s a relatively well-known fact: factory workers, farmers, and individuals that work in similar fields tend to be paid very little. In underdeveloped countries, especially, these workers are frequently exploited — working extremely long hours in inhumane conditions with frighteningly low pay.
Fair trade is a movement that focuses on helping producers in developing countries receive a fair price for their products and in so doing, create more equitable working conditions, promote environmentally sustainable practices, and reduce poverty.
How Is Fair Trade Jewelry Different From Others?
Fair trade jewelry differs from conventional jewelry in two fundamental ways: its means of production and its environmental impact. Where conventional jewelry often relies upon unethical sourcing and damages the local environment, fair trade jewelry focuses specifically on treating the original producers fairly and respecting their native environments.
In practice, this means that fair trade jewelry is created with minimal environmental impact by workers who are paid a fair wage and work in safe working environments.
This type of jewelry also considers the effects of the miners that provide the material made into jewelry. Historically, jewelry production has had roots in ecologically devastating mining practices that destroy the environment and create dangerous working conditions for the miners. By purchasing fair trade jewelry, consumers are able to leverage purchasing power to support safe and equitable mining practices.
Female-Focused Fair Trade Jewelry
More often than not, women bear the brunt of unfair economic policies. They’re discriminated against, forbidden from holding land, paid less than their male counterparts, frequently withheld education, and that’s only the beginning. Fair trade businesses are bound to respect and empower the women that they employ. Many take things a step further and actively promote education and local, female-led businesses.
By choosing fair trade jewelry to accessorize your wardrobe, you can create truly distinct outfits with uniquely handcrafted, environmentally sustainable jewelry that empowers women around the globe. And while fair trade jewelry can seem difficult to find, there are several organizations devoted to connecting consumers to empowered female producers.
WorldFinds is one such fair trade jewelry brand. It focuses on helping female artisans in India by empowering them through employment opportunities and works with over 700 female artisans in vulnerable communities throughout India to create handmade, eco-friendly jewelry.
Indigenous peoples are essentially unique cultures who have adhered to a certain set of traditions, often inhabiting the same region of land for centuries.
Unfortunately, many current trade practices unfairly hurt indigenous populations by allowing corporations to take over land that, while not technically indigenously-owned, has been traditionally farmed by these populations for centuries. When these trade agreements stifle these populations’ primary means of production, economic devastation inevitably follows.
While many of us have neither the time nor means to actively involve ourselves in political movements fighting for these peoples’ rights, we can still support them by supporting their businesses (thus contributing to them monetarily — while buying high-quality gifts for ourselves or our friends).
Many fair trade businesses are dedicated to supporting indigenous businesses. By investing in these indigenous groups by buying fair trade jewelry, you can fight these unfair trade practices and empower those burdened by them. Furthermore, you can help preserve thousands of years of unique and priceless traditions from within your closet.
La Casa Cotzal sells handcrafted products from artisans all over Guatemala. Their partners include a dozen Mayan indigenous and linguistic groups with a wide array of knowledge in traditional techniques. They create all sorts of products from blankets to fair trade jewelry — and certainly something that will make a distinct addition to your wardrobe while supporting the indigenous community that produced it.
Fair Trade Jewelry Subscriptions
As our world becomes ever smaller, it’s all the more important to consider the full impact of the products that we buy — from production to purchase. By developing a wardrobe that encourages fair trade, you support equitable and sustainable practices while creating a unique look that celebrates the traditions of women, indigenous cultures, and other lesser represented populations from all corners of the world.
You can make fair trade a monthly habit by signing up for a subscription to fair trade jewelry. Anchored Purpose Box provides monthly boxes with 3 ethically sourced items from companies like La Casa Cotzal and WorldFinds. These boxes include unique wearable items that directly support and empower underprivileged workers and often include fair trade jewelry.
Anchored Purpose Box also sends $5 from each box purchased to charitable organizations that provide clean food and water to vulnerable regions as well as microfinance initiatives to help impoverished communities become more self-sufficient. Visit Anchored Purpose Box today to learn more about its founder’s mission and how you can support fair trade practices.