The Best Places to Get Fair Trade Products for Your Home
As our world opens its borders, it’s easier than ever for vulnerable populations to get taken advantage of by large corporations who seek to exploit their resources for profit. One way to ensure that you’re supporting companies who have fair and sustainable practices is to look for fair trade certifications in products that you use in your home.
This can range from cosmetic and clothing brands to the place where you buy your furniture and house cleaning products. Fair trade seeks to promote equity in international trading partnerships, and companies who agree to adhere to a certain fair-trade standard are allowed to use the official mark on their advertisements and products.
Here are some of the best places where you can buy fair trade goods for your home.
Ten Thousand Villages
One of the most well-respected fair-trade companies in the United States is Ten Thousand Villages. Their stores sell everything from jewelry to tea to household linens to decorations, all made in various communities around the world and bought using fair trade standards. They boast that they employ over 20,000 makers to craft their products, and often advertise products using the story of how they came to be made. Such as their soaps which are made by former leather workers in India, or their colorful necklaces handmade by Colombian artisans using tagua nut, which would usually be recycled.
The Little Market
Not only was The Little Market founded by two young women, they started the company in order to empower women around the world to start supporting themselves rather than relying on their husbands or families for their income. Unlike Ten Thousand Villages, they have no brick-and-mortar stores as they run out of an ecommerce site. They offer tons of products to their customers, including bags, accessories, candles, and decorations, and make sure that consumers know exactly which artisans made which product. Many of their products are so popular that they’ve been waitlisted until more can be made.
Everlane is an online retail company that was founded in 2010, with the goal of providing sustainable clothing to customers at prices that won’t break the bank. Many companies that claim to be “fair trade certified” keep their business practices hidden, but Everlane has gone the complete opposite direction in their approach to offering their customers “radical transparency.” They have profiles on each of their factories on their website, and even tell customers exactly how much it costs to make each item of clothing. Their Choose What You Pay model allows people to specify exactly how much they think items of clothing should be sold for.
Fair Trade Winds
Fair Trade Winds is the ideal combination of brick-and-mortar stores that also have a robust online presence. They have seven physical locations throughout the United States, but you can buy all their stock online as well. Unlike other stores like Ten Thousand Villages and The Little Market, they carry a good selection of clothing in addition to their home goods, jewelry, and accessories.
Fair Trade Winds is also a family-run business, and they strive to partner with families and family-focused organizations to ensure that every one of their products has a positive impact on the world.
Sourcing fair trade fabric and apparel is often difficult. Does the certification start when fabric become clothing, or do brands have to ensure the flax and cotton that will eventually turn into their fabric is responsibly farmed?
People Tree is one of the oldest fair-trade clothing brands on the market — they’ve been around for 25 years — and they are continually holding themselves to a higher standard. Their fair wages support communities where their products are being made, but their environmental standards also help to ensure that farmers are taking care to preserve as much of their ecosystem as possible.
Ethical Market is an aggregate website that pulls together the best of ethical fashion, beauty, and home goods, and lists them all in one place. The Ethical Market team sources the best fair-trade brands and offers them space on their online webpage. This allows small companies to offload the burden of maintaining such a large online presence, so they can keep their focus on their products.
Ethical Market ensures that none of their products are tested on animals, and all of them come from fair-trade certified sources. They offer tons of different brands of clothing and accessories, including lots of vegan shoe options, which are often hard to come by.
Gokben Yamandag, the founder of Lesouque, started as a textile manufacturer in her home country of Turkey, where she witnessed firsthand the shady business practices that fast-fashion brands use to ensure their clothing is able to sell for rock-bottom prices. This inspired her to found her own ethical marketplace, stocked with fair-trade products that she’s sourced directly from the craftspeople that make them.
Lesouque is stocked with lots of trendy pieces, and things are updated frequently, so check in regularly to find the best bargains. Plus, they offer customers free shipping and returns.
Lush is one store that you’re usually able to smell before you see it. Even though it’s a staple of malls all around the country, Lush is surprisingly ethical when it comes to their raw materials, and their commitment to never testing their products on animals. Not only do they not test their products on animals, they refuse to do business with companies who do.
They also make sure that they can trace their products from start to finish. All ingredients are bought from growers and producers that practice sustainable farming habits, and they always pay their workers a living wage. Their products are fun, and they offer tons of variety as they’re always updating their website with unique, one-off batches of product.
We Dash Love
We Dash Love is an Australian ethical clothing company that curates a selection of the top fair-trade clothing designers and labels from around the world. Their website is a treasure-trove of indie designers, and you can shop either by label, type of clothing, or by value. Brands that focus on transparency, locally-made products, or handmade products fill up their website, and their clothing is extremely chic. Their collections are generally focused on well-made, minimalist wardrobe staples, and are quite reasonably priced.
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Another great website that has a huge selection of curated fair-trade clothing, accessories, and skincare is Ethica, a Texas-based clothing company focused on good-quality, well-made brands that they hold to the highest fair-trade standards. Like We Dash Love, you can filter their clothing by designer and label, but also by value- you can choose whether you want clothes that are made in the USA, handmade, organic, or vegan. They also do regular features on their makers and artisans, so you can learn about their creation process.
Another mall brand with surprisingly high ethical standards is skincare company L'Occitane, which was founded in Provence, and soon expanded around the world. While not all their products are technically fair-trade, they offer a line that uses entirely fair-trade ingredients, include shea butter from Burkina Faso. 100 percent of the profits from this line of products goes to supporting women’s leadership initiatives in West Africa, including microcredit programs, scholarships for girls, and entrepreneurial mentorship opportunities.
Eileen Fisher is one of the industry’s leading fair-trade brands. By 2020, they’re aiming to have ambitious production standards in place, including using 100 percent organic cotton and linen fabric and natural dyes, and making their factories waste-free.
Their clothing is more on the expensive side, but their pieces are so timeless and elegant that you’ll have them for decades. Their clothing is cut in eight distinct shapes, which makes it easy to mix and match their pieces.
The Body Shop
Another mall brand that has excellent practices but are not yet 100 percent fair trade is The Body Shop. Like Lush, they are actively fighting against animal testing, and offer several products that are certified fair trade, but there are still products in their stores that don’t adhere to the fair-trade standard. Instead, The Body Shop has its own mark that they call the Community Trade mark, which they use to certify that their products are made with ingredients that come from responsible farmers and suppliers.