As a society we consume cheap products and A LOT of them. Many of these products are poorly made, sometimes even by forced and child labor- yes, modern day slavery. When products are made cheaply, this means they are often low-quality and made with ingredients that aren’t the best for us or for the environment. Why do we want more, more, more even if it’s cheap? We may see the price tag and think we are getting a good deal, but are we really?
The answer is no.
You can buy higher quality products made with care by people who are treated fairly. You can buy products that are consciously created with the environment and you and your health in mind all while saving money. When you are more mindful of the products and the people behind the product you are able to let go of the consumeristic mindset, which is not good for the world, you, or your budget.
Like many families, we are on a budget. Buying with purpose isn’t breaking our budget, it’s saving our budget. I buy higher quality products. I use these products with care which means they last longer. I don’t buy something because it’s on sale and I buy the same products over and over because I know they work. I save myself from impulse buying, sale shopping and the desire for more cheap things. Those unnecessary cheap purchases add up to more than you think.
Before I get into the list, I want to point out that some products are certified fair trade. Those are the businesses that have been rigorously audited for best-practices. Some businesses are not certified, yet still share the same policies and mission.
The list below contains some affiliate links. I receive a small percentage of some purchases made.
Here are 10 Common Purchases You Can Switch to Fair Trade Now
- Food. The amount of food products labeled fair trade are starting to become more readily available, but I focus on two products that are known to be made with a large population of slavery: sugar and chocolate. I buy fair trade sugar and brown sugar at Aldi. If you don’t have an Aldi near you, use the Wholesome line of sweeteners (sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, etc.) found on Amazon or other retailers like Target. I buy my fairly made chocolate chips at Costco (Kirkland brand) and Divine Cocoa powder. You can also view my other favorite ethical recipe ingredients.
- Drinks. The United States Department of Labor has a list of goods produced by child or forced labor and coffee and tea are a large percentage of that. Once again, Aldi is my favorite and I can find fair trade coffee at a reasonable price. If you are a tea drinker, I recommend Choice Organic teas which are all organic, fair trade certified, non-GMO, etc. and can be found here on Amazon. If you are a flavored water drinker, I LOVE Everly drink mixes, which are no calorie, all natural drink mixes that come in flavors pomegranate maqui berry and peach mango. For every packet of Everly sold, they provide ORS (live-saving powder packets that rapidly rehydrate victims of waterborne diseases) to communities that lack access to the life-saving medicine.
- Bath and Body Products. I buy Alaffia for all of our bath and body products. They have everything: hand soap, bubble bath, shampoo, lotion, skin cream and more. The company was created to help West African communities become sustainable using their local resources. A successful fair trade company in a poor country has a tremendous trickle effect: women are empowered, they can send their children to school, have access to medical care and other opportunities that can affect generations. I buy these products on Amazon or you can find them at Whole Foods. I also really love Thistle Farms which has a variety of bath and body products made with the finest ingredients by a community of women in Tennessee who have survived prostitution, trafficking and addiction.
- Jewelry. There are SO many fairly made jewelry companies out there. Some of my favorites are fashionABLE and Noonday Collection. I also have a whole master list of social good companies.
- Purses and wallets. fashionABLE has my vote again. I have the Mamuye Leather tote. It is an expensive purchase, but it’s extremely well made and I’ll have it for years (it also is the only purse I use). I also love the style of Manos Zapotecas bags.
- Winter Wear. You can find many options for fairly made hats and scarves. I have purchased from Krochet Kids intl. which is very reasonably priced. They have a variety of hats, scarves and apparel. Beza Threads was started by a couple in my town and they offer fairly made scarves from Ethiopia in which 100% of the funds go to help free enslaved people in sweatshops.
- Socks and Underwear. Some products are hard to find “fair trade,” but there are many companies who have a social good mission. You can buy American-made socks from Mitscoots who employs the homeless to help them get back on their feet. Plus, for every sock purchased, another is donated to someone in need. Or Bombas who has another Buy One, Give one model. I also recently discovered PACT who has certified fair trade socks and underwear. There’s even fairly made lingerie! Naja has some beautiful lingerie to rival those big brands.
- Shoes. There are only a few fair trade shoe companies that I am familiar with: Ethletic, Nisolo and Oliberte. You can also see how your favorite major brands stack up, with grades on social and environmental responsibility at Free2Work. There are major brands who score better then others which you can then keep in mind when making your purchases.
- Kids Gifts & Toys. Here’s a list of my favorite social good kids toys!
- Subscription Boxes. Subscription boxes are all of the rage now. Do you subscribe to one? Did you know there are 12+ social good subscription boxes out there?
Be sure to check out my master list of ethical businesses.