When shopping for various home goods, do you ever stop to wonder how the item was produced and under what conditions? Becoming conscious of the quality and integrity of the items we fill our home with is an important part of maintaining an ethical lifestyle.
As much as we would like to think that all of the goods sold in stores are produced under congenial conditions, this is far from the truth. Fair trade baskets and other ethically-produced goods are rising in usage and popularity for this very reason. Consumers are becoming more aware of the plights of workers in developing countries and no longer want to support unethical practices.
For those who are interested in living more mindfully and supporting a more ethical economy, below you will find information on the benefits of fair trade products such as hand-woven baskets and other useful items, as well as how ethically produced goods are helping to reshape how we think about global supply chains and the rights of workers all over the world.
What does it mean to live mindfully? While there is room for interpretation, you could say that a mindful lifestyle is an ethical and conscious one. Taking time to educate yourself on the items you purchase for your home and make decisions that not only benefit you in a healthy and positive way, but that align with your ethics and also take the well-being of others into account.
It may seem obtuse to think of home decor in this fashion, but ultimately every item in our homes has to come from somewhere. Whether it’s a table, a plastic container, a vase, or a piece of silverware, that item didn’t just magically appear in your local department store. Chances are it was produced overseas and dozens, if not hundreds of individuals had a hand in its production. Whether it’s the extraction of raw materials from the earth, or operating a machine in a massive factory, the items we rely on every day all have a story behind them.
Unfortunately, in this global economy, the story in question is not always a cheery one. For those of us trying to live ethically, it doesn’t really make sense to include items in our homes that run contrary to our beliefs. While it’s nearly impossible to completely extricate ourselves from the negative aspects of the global economy, it is possible to be more mindful with our purchases and seek to purchase goods that not only add value to our lives, but that have been produced in an ethical and environmentally sound manner.
Ethics Over Convenience
Part of the reason why our current economic system is so unfair is that companies and consumers alike have prioritized convenience over everything else. This means maximum accessibility, extremely low prices, cheap materials, and very often worldwide distribution.
This system sounds like a dream come true for consumers, but the people involved with the production of these goods are often treated unfairly and in many cases downright unethically. Whether it’s poor wages, terrible working conditions, or a negative impact on local communities, there are a variety of issues involved with common economic practices that run contrary to an ethical way of life.
Even when it comes to the environment and matters of ecological sustainability, these industrial practices often leave much to be desired, which is why fair trade goods are rising in popularity. Consumers simply expect more out of the goods they invest in and are looking for companies that care more about ethics than mere convenience.
By moving our focus away from consumerism and more toward a sustainable economic model that involves higher-quality products, less waste, and a greater awareness of what goes into the production of the goods we use, it allows for a more mindful way of life. It feels good knowing you are filling your home with goods that have been carefully crafted and that have been produced in a conscious way that matches your ethics.
The Benefits of Fair Trade
Fair trade is not just an economic model, it can be considered a global movement that emphasizes safe working conditions, the ability for workers to earn fair wages, community support, and the production of long-lasting, high-quality goods.
When considering the qualities of fair-trade baskets, for instance, not only are these items produced under better working conditions, they are made to last. Sustainability is a key component of fair trade, lessening demand by producing goods that are not as disposable and that have a longer lifespan.
Fair trade not only gives power back to the workers, it allows for a greater range of integrity and quality in the items themselves. When the priority isn’t mass production with the cheapest possible materials, the result is goods that you can truly be proud to have in your home.
Here are just some of the most important benefits of buying fair trade and why this movement appeals to those who want to cultivate an ethical lifestyle.
Better Working Conditions
When people think of fair trade, this is usually the big topic that comes up. Overseas working conditions can vary substantially from country to country and from company to company, but generally speaking, many countries have fewer regulations when it comes to worker safety and protocols in general.
Not only are the laws and regulations shoddy when it comes to working conditions in these locations, but the actual rights of the workers are at times severely limited compared to what we are used to here in the US. This can make it difficult for workers to seek any kind of relief or justice on their own terms. Many of these workers are forced into such conditions due to limited job availability, severe poverty, and a lack of educational opportunities, to name a few issues.
Fair trade standards include health and safety protocols that ensure that working environments are viable and that the workers themselves have more of a voice. This includes factors such as paid leave, fair contracts, and other means of bolstering worker livelihoods.
The price we pay for cheap goods is actually rather steep. Not only do these items have a short lifespan, which increases demand for new goods and contributes to more waste piling up in landfills, it also means that the workers involved are usually paid pennies per hour for their troubles.
This is not an exaggeration, as the average hourly wage for factory workers in developed countries can be as little as a dollar or less in many instances. The textile industry is notoriously bad in this department, as workers have to suffer the indignity of pennies per hour for work that is neither easy nor safe.
While each industry differs and the standards in many of these countries are still not up to the same standards that we enjoy, fair trade practices seek to make payment for labor livable and just. This payment doesn’t always include wages specifically and can encompass worker benefits, healthcare, housing, and other kinds of support. The goal of fair trade practices is to give power and autonomy to workers, especially in extremely impoverished areas, where opportunity is scarce and sustainable living is difficult without a support system.
Education and Support
Another important element of fair trade is how it helps to improve access to education and other forms of support, for children and adults alike. Various fair trade campaigns and companies that are involved with pushing for these higher standards, are working to fund wide scale education projects that help strengthen local communities.
This is typically managed through fair trade premiums, which are essentially collective funds that go toward larger projects, and can include everything from building schools to providing self defense lessons for women. These programs vary substantially but they typically involve efforts that would have a direct impact on strengthening community networks and empowering workers and their families. This is a far cry from the typical exploitative practices used by companies relying on overseas labor.
The well-being of workers and the health of the environment are inextricably linked. Ethically produced products such as hand-crafted baskets often take the planet into consideration during the course of production. Many of these products are designed using high-quality sustainable materials that don’t rely as much on mass factory production or ecologically damaging practices.
This makes them fit perfectly in line with an ethical and more mindful lifestyle. An ecologically sound approach to product production helps strengthen local communities and empowers workers at the same time. Caring for the environment is crucial for maintaining quality of life and factors into the wider need to address issues of sustainable business practices and climate change.
According to the United Nations and other authorities as well, the effects of climate change disproportionately affect developing countries. Environmental degradation decreases the value of an area in a global economy, weaking worker bargaining power and negatively impacting quality of life. An ecologically damaged region can also suffer more droughts, food shortages, extreme weather conditions, and is more prone to outbreaks of disease. With less infrastructure to fall back on, the problems only become compounded.
Part of living a mindful lifestyle is understanding that we all have a part to play in taking care of the environment and that sustainable practices not only benefit workers directly but can also have a positive impact on the planet as a whole. By making a conscious effort to purchase fair trade goods, it helps support workers, their families, their communities, and the environment as well.
Adding Fair Trade Baskets Into Your Home
Beautiful baskets created from sustainable plant-based materials are a perfect way to improve the functionality and aesthetic appeal of your home. Fair trade baskets are not only incredibly versatile, but they are also produced consciously, making them a great ethical lifestyle choice.
Here at ourCommonplace we feature a wide array of attractive artisan-crafted baskets that serve a multitude of useful purposes. Whether you are interested in adding a unique and charming decor piece to your home arrangement, or if you are more interested in an all-purpose travel bag or sustainable storage unit, these baskets have just the right qualities for the job.
For instance, these beautiful Agora Plates by Korissa function as stylish serving trays, fruit bowls, interesting decor, and can also be used for organization and storage purposes. Made with jute, a soft but strong material produced from the bark of the jute plant, which is primarily grown in India.
We have a wide variety of jute baskets and well as ones crafted out of high-quality seagrass as well. These materials are not only all-natural and free of toxic chemicals, they are more sustainable than plastics and other kinds of artificial materials which aren’t biodegradable.
Eco-friendly baskets like these can help you reduce clutter throughout your home, enhance the look and feel of a particular space, and can even serve as reusable grocery bags or hampers. Depending on the particular design and size of the basket in question, they work well for a multitude of different at-home and on-the-go uses. They can even be used outdoors to house plants in, so long as you take care not to let them get too wet.
What’s great about these baskets is that they are not only functional but as decor items they carry powerful artistry to them that is hard to come by elsewhere. These items are great for adding an organic, earthy feel to your home, and since they are designed ethically and from all-natural materials, you can feel great about incorporating them into your home and lifestyle.
If you are interested in picking up some of these beautifully-made baskets for yourself, browse through our collection here in our online ethical marketplace. We carry a variety of other home essentials as well, such as home accents, bedding sets, kitchen items, rugs, and more, all of which are designed with ethics and sustainability in mind. The perfect complement to an ethical lifestyle.