A Fair Holiday Season

The holidays are right around the corner and, for better or worse, that usually means shopping for presents. Have you bought all your presents yet? I haven’t… despite good intentions of having everything sorted by the end of November, the procrastinator in me got the best (well, that and my 2 young’uns) and I still have a way to go.

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Anyone who knows me most likely knows how passionate I am about Fair Trade and Organic products. In fact, before becoming a stay at home mom, I was working for a Fair Trade non-profit organisation. Now, I’m not going to go into all the details about Fair Trade here, and I will not lecture you, but how cool would it be if you made a difference through your purchases this holiday season? How wonderful would it be if you not only bought excellent quality products, but also helped ensure those producing them were doing so under fair labour conditions and without resorting to modern slavery (see here, here, here, here and here) to produce them ?

You may be familiar with the Fairtrade label on food products in supermarkets (think coffee, tea, chocolate, bananas – these are the main food products), but did you know you could also buy these at Fair Trade shops, known as World Shops? Did you know there are also Fair Trade handicrafts? And may I add that they are beautiful? Really, they are perfect for gift-giving!

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Lots for the kids! My sons love the real traditional music instruments we’ve bought here. Much better price than big brand children’s toy instruments too.

Some of you may think, well, I already buy Fair Trade products at the supermarket, I’m doing my part. But let me just tell you why it’s also important to buy from these shops: the people doing the work, getting the message out, many (if not most) times donating their time and ability to promote Fair Trade. A supermarket is anonymous, a Fair Trade shop is not. These are mostly small, relying heavily on volunteers.

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All about the people…

I went out to my local Fair Trade shop – an Oxfam World Shop in Schaerbeek – to do some shopping and buy some presents – handicrafts and chocolates mostly – and took some pictures to show you.

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Shop front – they also have a second-hand shop attached

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Yummy! Fairtrade Noussines and Pralines

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Chocolates for the little ones. This is where I bought our chocolate St. Nicholas for Sprout and some friends. A real bargain, and so much better too.

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Beautiful handicrafts

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Colourful scarves

This is just a sample, really. There are many more in and around Brussels, not only Oxfam, but many others. Some even have a small resto/coffee shop where you could try their products (like here).

You can find quite a list of retailers at the Trade For Development website. And this is just Belgium. You can find Fair Trade products in just about any said developed (and many developing) country.

In a time of gift-giving, will your gifts be Fair?

2 thoughts on “A Fair Holiday Season

  1. Thanks for these great photos and inspiration. Last year I found an advent calendar that showed in little cartoon drawings the fair trade production of chocolate from Ghana to the West, so my kids could see how the little bits of chocolate inside got to them! Since Papa is Ghanaian (and their grandma still lives in Ghana) this is a strong message for them.

  2. Oh, that advent calendar sounds lovely, just the kind of thing I’d like to get. I haven’t seen them here, boo-hoo!

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