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Green Festival Promotes Eco Friendly Shopping of Fair Trade Products

Green Festival is an Eco Friendly Event

Undeniably, Green Festival is one of the most awaited green events in US and also the largest and longest-running sustainable and green living event attended by hundreds of retailers, wholesalers and other green companies.  This eco friendly event continues to raise awareness about a greener lifestyle that will empower the men and women behind every green products and services for a sustainable development.  The Green Festival is taking over cities after cities across America with a commitment to make an eco friendly market place where ethical, organic and everything fair trade products will be made available and accessible to the public. This unique, dynamic and powerful platform intends to create awareness that there is a greener option for the consuming public to shop ethically.  The Green Festival also opens up the opportunity to support artisans and other green companies to encourage their green ways of participating in the trading world.

green festivalThe Green Seahorse Will Take Its First Plunge at the Green Festival

The Green Seahorse is one with the Green Festival’s commitment to make organic and fair trade products available to the public – so what can get better than making its first plunge into the market through this green event, right?  Yes, The Green Seahorse will be participating in this year’s San Francisco Green Festival.

 Creative fair trade products proudly made by artisans from all over the world will be part of this green event thru the efforts of The Green Seahorse team.  From Tagua Nut Jewelries to eclectic variety of artisan crafts (green fashion accessories, holiday or house ornaments and other gift ideas) – everyone will surely find something to delight with these offerings.  And with eco friendly displays and samples, the creative brain behind The Green Seahorse assures the public that their booth will be one of the greenest in the event in keeping with their green commitment to minimize the impact of this fare to the environment.

Do visit The Green Seahorse booth at the Green Festival and VOTE them as well as your favorite Green Brand, winning this title will give them a chance to win a free booth at the next event.  Upon voting, you will also be eligible to register for a chance to win the Super Green Shopper Prize - a gift basket of green products!  For more details about the event, you can check out The Green Seahorse Facebook Event Page.

Green Festival San Francisco – A Green Commitment by the Green Seahorse

The Green Seahorse is sealing its green commitment to the environment and artisans from all over the world by participating in the Green Festival.  This green company believes that we can help ease poverty and promote sustainable development through eco friendly shopping of fair trade products.

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Sustainable Development by Advocating Fair Trade Products

What is Sustainable Development?

According to www.iisd.org, “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”  It simply requires us to see the world as a system – where everything is interconnected in some ways.  The way we’re behaving today, here and now – could affect others tomorrow, and even years after that.  The way we’re consuming resources today and the conducting our businesses will have an effect – either positively or negatively, to our children’s children in the future.  You can’t really call it sustainable development when development is focused on the present and the now without regards on tomorrow. Unfortunately, our economy’s path to what they call advancement or innovation gives little regard to the true meaning of sustainable development.

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Sustainable Development through Fair Trade

One of the key principles of World Fair Trade Organization focuses on preserving and conserving our environment.  They use technologies that reduce energy consumption as well as renewable energy whenever possible.  Fair trade products uses raw materials that came from sustainably managed sources, buying locally if available and promoting recycling and upcycling as well.  Fair trade produce are farmed and harvested in accordance to certain standards that aims to minimize its environmental impact.

By advocating Fair Trade products, we are supporting the effort to solve poverty and protect and conserve the environment at the same time.  Now that’s the very core of sustainable development, right, we meet our needs today without sacrificing future needs.  Buying fair trade products means that we’re supporting the men and women of small communities to break through the world market and offer the option for the public to consume consciously.

Reminding ourselves that the future is at stake with the way we’re consuming today will prompt us to make better and smart choices.  It’s about time we ditch our impulse buying or shopping behavior.  Always ask yourself if it is really a ‘necessity’ and consider the ‘true cost’ of every product you’re buying.  Don’t get fooled by lower or cheaper prices, these products oftentimes come with a different ‘price’ that put our environment or perhaps even a child’s life at risk.

fair trade, ethical products

Take a closer look at high end products – ask yourself if it’s really worth supporting the brand.  Does style overcompensate what is truly ethical?  People oftentimes play the ignorance card just so they could justify their choices, so they could feel okay with satisfying their need now.  Well, I say, it’s hard to un-know the things that you now know.  Your next move is your choice.

Sustainable Development

We can change the way our world trading economy works today; we can start by making the conscious effort to know and learn our buyer rights, consider available options, and always think of sustainable development.

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Fair Trade Connects You with Other Cultures

Fair Trade is the Key

Fair Trade products are unique to the culture of the place they originated from.  Every creation reflects the identity of the people behind it and that what makes fair trade products extra special.  Supporting fair trade products from all over the world means that you’re helping to keep the traditions alive in these places – making sure that their culture will continue to thrive for more generations to come.

Fair Trade, Artisans and their Culture

artisans of costa rica

From metal artworks from Haiti to Abalone shell jewelries from Mexico – every product reflects the creativity and culture of their people.  In one of my trips in Costa Rica, I met a couple of artisans.  One with his pottery works which are amazing and another woman artisan with her beautiful beadworks.  One of the reasons why I came up with The Green Seahorse is to help artisans like them to promote their products in a bigger market and give them the opportunity to compete in the global market.

Exposure to artisans’ products connects us with different cultures through their artworks and practices while also bringing awareness about global poverty.  What can get better than supporting cultural works, enjoying beautiful and delicious products and alleviating poverty at the same time?

So the next time you need to go shopping or if you are to re-decorate your house or you need gift ideas for friends and loved ones, consider looking over the works of these artisans.  Bring life to your collection with a touch of different culture and exceptional creativity while feeling good about yourself for being a conscious consumer.

Fair Trade Products

costa rica artisanWhenever you choose to purchase these products (from handcrafted pieces to delicious produce) over their counterparts in the market, it means that you’re supporting a community somewhere else in the world.  That means that these communities will have funding for projects that will help the poor member of the community such as clean water, health clinics, and even educational opportunities for themselves or their children.

I believe that fair trade helps not only the artisans and their community; it also protects the environment and improves commercial trading.  As we continuously raise awareness about the importance of conscious consumerism and how our purchases affects the environment and other people – we can then expect a better and improved trading practice globally and that is all because of fair trade.

Handcrafted Artisan jewelry

Paving the Way for Artisans in the Global Market

IMG_4185Being an artist myself, I have also faced challenges in marketing myself into the marketing world.  After all, I’m an artist, I create art works.  Creativity comes naturally – an innate thing.  But then I realized that marketing is the opposite of what art is for me. Perhaps it is, too, for artisans all over the world.

A Humble Beginning

After a lot of learning – studying the ins and outs, patience and perseverance I venture off from teaching arts to starting an eco-friendly business centering in Fair Trade products.  Being the eco-activist/artist/mom that I am – I’m immediately drawn to the very idea of creating incredibly beautiful products through recycling or upcycling or by simply using already available resources.  Furthermore, I’m impressed with the idea of helping artisans from practically all over the world to better their lives by simply aiding them to market their products.

Speaking from experience, creating may tend to be the easy part for creative people, marketing our creation is the challenge.  It was then that I started reaching out to artisans in the hopes to widen their opportunity to capture a bigger market through the internet.  By introducing them the benefits of internet marketing – increased exposure, wider demographic reach, accessibility and simplicity of exchange – I intend to help these artisans brave the global market.

Artisans in the Global Market

Artisans from Cambodia, India, Haiti, Mexico and other parts of the world – offers products that are not only environmentally conscious but are also rich in creativity (displaying their craftsmanship) and originality (bearing a touch of their respective culture).  Small villages in developing countries, through the help of Fair Trade cooperatives or other non-profit organizations are able to produce products that are worthy of their place in the global market.

These fair trade cooperatives and other home businesses by artisans will not foster in any way if they can’t connect to the consumers that demand for such products.  It’s all about directing and connecting the artisans in the global market to have a fair chance in capturing the conscious consumers out there.  Inevitably, there will be no need for supply if they can’t create or find the demand in the market – the very reason why these artisans need help in marketing themselves.

The Green SeahorseOftentimes, consumers will readily choose their products over their counterparts if given the opportunity.  But how can they choose among products A, B and C if they are only presented with products A and B.  A lot of consumers are beginning to think more consciously about their purchases and will opt for ethically produced products anytime if given the chance.  What these artisans need really, is to promote themselves and make their products available for the choosing.

An Artist on a Mission

As I connect to these artisans, teaching them the benefits of making use of the computer technology and internet in marketing themselves, I believe that I’m on the right path to helping them in my own little way to attain success in empowering themselves economically.  By providing them the platform from where they can display their products and bring attention to their creations, these artisans can readily brave the global market and take a fair chance in the international trade.  Surely, a big step towards a better life for these artisans‘ families and communities.

supports local communities,women empowerment

Empowering Women Through Fair Trade

It’s undeniable that gender inequality is still a global issue, more so for developing countries where such problem contributes to the worsening cases of poverty.  It’s the opposite of women empowerment, women are left powerless to better their lives because they don’t only lack the opportunity to do so but also left to endure unfair treatment brought upon by the society or culture.

Gender Equality to Empower Women

According to UN Development Programme, when gender inequalities are reduced, more children go to school, families are healthier, agricultural productivity improves and income increases.  Safe to say then, that investing in women is the best way to resolve global poverty and promote prosperity. Sustainable communities will only exist if we empower the very women that hold the family together – it’s about women empowerment.  Only then we can begin to expect meaningful changes in the community.

women economic empowerment

Aside from the cultural aspect, some women are not able to break free from poverty because they lack the resources or capital, the education or training to improve their craftsmanship and the market or platform to promote their products or produce.  This is livelihood projects such as fair trade cooperatives, informal organizations and Fair Trade companies will play a big role.  They provide the women (as well as men) from small villages of developing countries, exactly what they needed to enable them to work they way out of poverty.

Women and Fair Trade

Through Fair Trade, women are given the opportunity to work in a safe environment, enjoy fair treatment and rightfully reap the benefits of their hard work. Fair trade companies are bound to fulfill the Principles of Fair Trade, and principle 6 clearly states that it is committed to ensuring Non Discrimination, Gender Equity and Women’s Economic Empowerment and Freedom of Association.  It says:

The organization does not discriminate in hiring, remuneration, access to training, promotion, termination or retirement based on race, caste, national origin, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, union membership, political affiliation, HIV/Aids status or age.
The organization has a clear policy and plan to promote gender equality that ensures that women as well as men have the ability to gain access to the resources that they need to be productive and also the ability to influence the wider policy, regulatory, and institutional environment that shapes their livelihoods and lives. Organizational constitutions and by-laws allow for and enable women  to become active members of the organization in their own right (where it is a membership based organization),  and to take up leadership positions in the governance structure regardless of women’s status in relation to ownership of assets such as land and property.  Where women are employed within the organization, even where it is an informal employment situation, they receive equal pay for equal work.  The organization recognizes women’s full employment rights and is committed to ensuring that women receive their full statutory employment benefits. The organization takes into account the special health and safety needs of pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers.”

Women Empowerment

Women empowerment will ultimately mean a better life for the family – where women can provide or support the basic needs of the family such as nutritious food, decent and safe shelter, and health care if needed and in some cases even education.

It’s safe to say that empowering the women means empowering the society as well.  Promoting Fair Trade and its principles is a big step towards gender equality and women empowerment.

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*Photos courtesy of www.undp.org

Handmade expressions

NOBUNTO: A Fair Trade Company for the People

Nobunto, a South African Fair Trade company based in the small village Napier east of Cape Town, means ‘for the people.’  The name is befitting of the company’s mission to better the lives of the people in the community by providing employment to over 18 families in the hopes to alleviate poverty.

Handcrafted Fair Trade Products

Nobunto responsibly creates high quality handcrafted products such as candles, ceramics, gift cards and recycled jewelries.  They showcase not just their craftsmanship and creativity but their culture as well through the evident African inspired designs of their products.  The company assures that they abide with the 10 Principles of Fair Trade by the World Fair Trade Organization or WFTO.  Each product is made with respect to the customers, artisans and to the environment as well

The company aims to provide these people with a livelihood that will improve their economic condition in a sustainably, ethically and socially responsible way.  It’s not just about having a steady and predictable source of income but to make a living while respecting everything else around them. They make use of recycling, use sustainable resources and make environmentally conscious decisions whenever possible.

Fair Trade and the People

Having a sustainable employment is important to ensure a better future for a family, more so in a region where there is a 50 percent unemployment rate.  Needless to say that Nobunto does make an impact in the lives of its workers.  Mostly women, Nobunto’s workers reap the fruits of their hard work while enjoying a safe and fun working environment alongside their fellow artists and craftswomen and craftsmen as well.

Fair Trade is Hope

This Fair Trade company does opens the door for these African families to have a fair chance in the trading market where they can offer their responsibly made products, ensure a better future for their families and become a well-meaning member of their community.  Supporting their fair trade products does mean supporting a better life for them and making but another step in resolving poverty.

South African Artisans

Photos courtesy of  www.nobunto.com

supports local communities,Global Mamas

The Women of Ghana Goes Global

There is no denying that gender inequality is a global problem and is a major contributing factor in the worsening poverty condition all over the world including the women of Ghana.  Women are oftentimes treated unfairly in the work environment, if not denied access to a decent job employment or education at all.  Sadly, this oftentimes cause women to lose confidence that they, too, can create a difference and make changes in their own lives.

Empowering the Women of Ghana

In Ghana, two women from North America, Renae Adam & Kristin Johnson, and a handful of Ghanaian women gave birth to Global Mamas in 2003.  Defying gender inequality, the 6 women of Ghana and the two Americans empower women by giving them greater economic independence through livelihood projects that will grant prosperity to African women and their families.

The Global Mamas are mothers, wives, grandmothers, sisters, talented entrepreneurs and leaders in their communities who work wholeheartedly to bring forth unique and high quality products worthy of international fair trade.  They use traditional techniques with each hand-crafted item.  Their products include kids and adult’s apparel, accessories, home décor, jewelry, ornaments, shea butter lotion, shea butter soap, black soap, bulk shea and other accessories – these are through batiking, recycling (Beads and Plastics) and Shea butter production.

Love your Product. Know your producer.

One of their tag lines read: “Love your product.  Know your producer.  Change her life.”  This is exactly what it means for them to have their product in the fair trade.  This is a life changing endeavor for the women of Ghana.  It gives them the opportunity to enjoy a steady, predictable income in a work environment where they are protected and respected.

Sustainable Employment is Empowering the Women of Ghana

Because of Global Mamas, the women of Ghana are starting to find their voice and place in the community.  Finding economic independence through sustainable employment allow these women to enjoy a prosperous life – providing nutritious meal to the family, sending their children to school and seeking health care when needed.  And as we continue to support their products we also continue to change their lives.

artisan women of Ghana

*Photos courtesy of: www.globalmamas.org

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Oil Drum Art: Proudly Haitian

Fair Trade Oil Drum Art

Haitian metal artists are widely known for producing beautiful art pieces – from three dimensional masks to wall hangings to jewelries – all made from oil drums.  Carlo Brutus and Eugene Jacques are only two of the many artisans from Croix des Bouquets – the wholesale Haitian metal art capital of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  Carlo and Eugene showcase their craftsmanship and artistry through their innovative oil drum art.

Oil Drum Artists

Eugene Jacques was trained under well respected masters of steel craft in Croix-des-Bouquets.  The exposure from the works of such amazing artists coupled with his innate artistic talent allowed Eugene to become the metal artist that he is now.  His metal artworks are known not just for the unique style but for the accompanying story behind the art as well.  Each of his oil drum art works bear personality and daring vision with many of them being one of kind pieces.

Eugene Jacques

Carlo Brutus on the other hand trained under Gary Darius and older brother, Jean Closter Brutus.  He eventually opened his own workshop in 1994 so that he can produce his own oil drum art with his own style.  Carlo’s primitive style of work reflects his reverence for Georges Liatud, whom he regarded as an important man in his memory.  Today, Carlo’s designs are influenced by the natural world and mythical creatures.  Apart from his genuine love for the work, he acknowledged the fact that it is his security as well, stating that he appreciate the job orders that he gets because it means a better life for them.

Jean Carlo Brutus

Promoting Haitian Metal Artists

Haitian metal artists, such as Eugene and Carlo here, can also be regarded as an eco-artist producing green arts.  They use their craftsmanship and artistry to participate in the fair trade to better their lives and support the environment as well by recycling used oil drums (which need to be imported into Haiti).  Whenever these artisans opt to recycle for their oil drum arts, instead of the cheaper and readily available steel sheets, they’re also choosing to protect the planet.  Making use of the already existing materials, through recycling or upcyling, saves our environment from further depletion of natural resources.

*Photos courtesy of www.haitifairtrade.com

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Fair Trade: Going Green with Organic

Organic foods are becoming the trend now for health conscious people – that is, healthy conscious people who can choose to eat healthy and can afford to do so.  It’s a sad truth; organic food is more expensive than their conventional counterparts.

Is Organic More Expensive?

There are many factors contributing to the higher price of organic foods, but we can also think of other ways to incorporate as much organic foods as we can in our family’s diet.  Educating people to become a conscious consumer can make a monumental shift in the trend of demand and supply of products in the market.  Conventional foods are flooding the market – shelves after shelves after shelves – basically because people are buying it.  With more and more organic produce in the Fair Trade we can hope to bring some sense of balance or changes in the way producers conduct their commercial trade.

Organic Fair Trade Products

Fair trade goods or produce do not necessarily render it organic because Fair Trade Certification doesn’t require organic certification at the same time.  But since the WFTO (World Fair Trade Organization) holds

Photos courtesy of   www.huilerieemilenoel.com

Photos courtesy of www.huilerieemilenoel.com

environmental standards to the core and set strict guidelines to protect and conserve the environment, having an organic certification is definitely a big plus.  In fact many producers invest their Fair Trade premium funds in organic certification.  WFTO support organic farming by providing education and training to producers and by giving them higher price incentives for their organic products.  Fair Trade standards clearly state that agrochemicals that are extremely dangerous to humans, plants, animals and soil and water resources are not to be used in farming even if it will get the job done faster and more efficiently.  Organic farmers substitute labor and intensive management instead of using such chemicals to ensure that they are delivering quality, fresh and healthy produce.

Be Healthy, Be Organic!

As we become more conscious about our purchases and continuously favor products and produce that meets Fair Trade Standards, we also encourage the production of goods that will benefit us health wise, support the farming communities and conserve and preserve the environment at the same time.  Going organic therefore is not just a step towards healthy living but also a green way to live a more meaningful life.

artisans of india

Handmade Expressions: Empowering the Artisans of India

Handmade Expressions, based in Austin Texas, is a sourcing partner for socially and environmentally responsible products by artisans of India.  They aim to create a sustainable livelihood that will help the underprivileged and the disadvantaged artisans in the community.  By bringing their products in the International Fair Trade, Handmade Expressions hopes to improve the economic and social standings of these Indian artisans.

Handmade Expressions is Creating a Sustainable Livelihood

Handmade Expressions is an independent Fair Trade company and member of the Fair Trade Federation.  Apart from providing the opportunity to create a sustainable livelihood, they also sponsor community development projects to improve services such as healthcare and education.  The artisans of India also aim to protect and conserve the environment by being environmentally responsible – that is by using as many recycled, reused and natural materials and processes whenever possible.

As more and more people are now becoming a conscious consumer, the demand for ethical products labeled cruelty free, organic, recycled, re-used, produced locally or fair trade –will considerably increase, therefore creating an opportunity for more artisans to participate in the International trade to supply the demands.

Empowering the Artisans of India

Handmade Expressions empower the artisans of India with market and fashion information to produce high quality gifts, home accents, women’s accessories and tree-free stationery products that will competitively survive the international market.  The more Fair Trade goods there is the more alternative and choices for the consuming public.

Are You a Conscious Consumer?

The next time you made your purchases consider the social and environmental impact of the production of such goods.  Educate yourself about a product’s hidden cost before you ultimately decide to buy it. Remember that Fair Trade goods support social empowerment, gender equality, training, community development and environmental stewardship.  You can empower the artisans of India by buying or promoting their artworks.

women artisans of India

Photos courtesy of: www.handmadeexpressions.net