Mother’s Day: Give a Fair Trade Gift

by Magdalen O’Reilly

Fair trade: “the practice of directly benefiting producers in the developing world by buying straight from them at a guaranteed price.”

Mother’s Day is coming quickly and as many of us will wait until the very last minute to buy anything, we may forget to stop and ask, “Is this fair trade?” Well first of all, why is it important? Often developing nations are taken advantage of, exporting goods and services for a fraction what they would be paid in first world countries. The U.S. and other large nations also utilize the services of countries that don’t conform to ethical treatment laws for their workers. Buying fair trade items is a way to ensure your money is not going to fund these practices. So fellow procrastinators, here is a compilation of ideas for Mother’s Day that fit the bill.

Many Hand’s Trading

This store is a good place to find almost anything fair trade. Approximately 80% of their products are Fair Trade approved. Books are excluded, but they have some beautiful wall art from Haiti, handmade scarves and skirts from India, paintings, beauty products and more.

Grass Roots

Grass Roots is an independent book store, and while most books are usually not fair trade- they do sell Freeset Bags. I honestly can’t rave about these enough, they are so cool. They’re made of jute (often called burlap), which is extremely durable, recyclable and even edible. But Freeset is best known for its wonderful work with women in India. Freeset takes women from the sex trafficking industry and gives them work in their fair trade factories making the bags. This ensures them a living wage as well as their dignity and bodily safety. Plus they look cool- the bags, not the women. Although I’m sure they’re cool too.

The Troubadour 

Choosing fair trade doesn’t always mean buying a gift that’s been stamped “FT Approved!” Another way to fight against poor working conditions is too simply refuse them your money. Investing in local commerce is a great option, and sometimes you want to go that extra mile to do something really personal. Does your mom have an old guitar, mandolin, banjo, dulcimer or violin? Perhaps something that’s in disrepair? Bring it over to the Troubadour to be whipped back into mint condition! Presenting your mother with an old instrument you’ve had repaired for her is a guaranteed way to make her cry- the good way.

Local Artists

Another local source is to take advantage of our amazing art community. Many coffee shops and restaurants in town feature local artists, and you can buy the art right off the wall. Check out the Arts Center, it’s a great resource to connect you with local talent, and Pegasus Gallery. Or buy a piece from her favorite cafe like The Beanery, Sunnyside Up Cafe, Old World Deli and New Morning Bakery.