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New Years Resolution: Make 2015 the Year of Fair Trade!

31 Dec

Take the Fair Trade Challenge by pledging to support more fair trade certified companies and products in the new year. By adding this to your resolutions list, together we can make 2015 a year of positive change in our communities that will have a global effect through fair trade!

Restyle Fair Trade’s Top 3 Reasons To Love Fair Trade in 2015 

1. You Don’t Need To Sacrifice Style For Causestyle

All ReStyle products are on-trend meeting the latest style fashions. So you can look great while knowing that each purchase is changing lives.

2. You Can Make A Difference In A Woman’s Life

Over 95% of the products we offer are made by women artisans, and each purchase helps provide meaningful opportunity for women and their families.

Better health, more access to doctors, the ability to attend better schools – all are results of Fair Trade. You become part of the solution!

Hope For Women artisans who create our beautiful handmade products

Hope For Women artisans who create our beautiful handmade products

3. You Are Doing Your Part To Better The Planet

social-media-planetOur Fair Trade products are also eco-friendly. Whether turning recycled tire tubes or recycled orange peel into unique products, or using sustainably harvested rainforest seeds, each ReStyle product shoots for the highest green mark to help reduce our footprint on our planet.

Thanks to everyone for choosing to support Fair Trade. Each purchase makes a difference!

Fair Trade: Empowering Women Around the World

27 Mar
These women formed Arte Comasagua, an artisan group that Hope for Women is proud to work wtih

These women formed Arte Comasagua, an artisan group in El Salvador that we are proud to work with.

Poverty and gender inequality are main factors which cause women worldwide to lack employment opportunities and to struggle to support themselves without the aid of men. Engaging in trade can be especially difficult because in many societies it is considered inappropriate for women to take part in this type of work. Fair Trade promotes gender equality through imparting equal wages and providing women with economic opportunities. It also encourages women to take on leadership positions and to fully participate in discussion and decision making about business practices.

Fair Trade gives women the chance to provide for themselves and their families, which strengthens their position in society and gives them the resources and skills needed to take control of their lives and futures. Below are examples from around the world of women who have been empowered by Fair Trade and were able to create a better life for themselves.

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Rwanda

Fair Trade USA featured a story on Hinga Kawa, a Women’s Association, which is part of the  Abakunda Kawa cooperative and is comprised of a group of women who joined together as a community to sell their coffee. Many of these women are widows or orphans due to the genocide in their country, so they hold many responsibilities at home as well as at work in the coffee fields. By forming Hinga Kawa, these women are able to take pride in selling coffee that they have grown and also have a supportive network of women who share their hardships. Although Fair Trade has not made these women rich, it has provided them with an income that will allow them to send their children to school and still be able to feed them.

Hinga Kawa Women's Association of coffee farmers in Rwanda

Hinga Kawa Women’s Association of coffee farmers in Rwanda

Brazil

The story of one woman, Donha Conceção, also featured by Fair Trade USA exemplifies the major, life changing impact that Fair Trade can have on struggling women worldwide.  When Donha Conceção was widowed with five children to care for, she was left with only the knowledge of coffee farming as means of survival.  After a period of extremely difficult times, she decided to join the Fair Trade Certified coffee cooperative, Coocafé, where she learned to farm more sustainably.  Through their aid she was able to increase the quality and price of her coffee.  The resulting success of her coffee business enabled her to provide for her family and send all of her children to school.  She became the first woman to be elected to Coocafé’s board.

India and Nepal

The World Fair Trade Organization conducted research on the role of women in the market and what benefits they receive from group membership and Fair Trade.  They looked the Artisans Association, ACP (Association for Craft Producers) and WIEGO (Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing), which are Fair Trade working projects for impoverished women in India and Nepal. The women involved were able to earn their own income in a society where women face many restrictions such as the inability to receive higher education and a lack of resources or employment options. They reported that the rare opportunity they were given allowed them to become skilled, capable craftswomen in a safe environment.  Also, the contribution they made to their household income changed their husband’s attitudes towards them, causing them to be treated with with more respect and to be given more authority.

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Photo: Carol Wills

In numerous other countries around the world women are benefiting from the increase in Fair Trade initiatives.  What could be better motivation to support Fair Trade than to know that your purchases are ethical and are contributing to the ability of women worldwide to take control of their lives.

Sources:

Barrow, Katie. 2010. Women, Coffee & Hope: Fair Trade is Blossoming in the Hills of Rwanda. Fair Trade USA.

FairtradeUSA. 2010. Grandmother, Coffee Farmer, Leader: Meet Donha Conceção.

Jones, Elaine. 2012. Women’s Economic Empowerment Through Fair Trade: Case Studies from India and Nepal. World Fair Trade Organization.

Photo: “Women Coffee farmers in Rwanda” from Fair Trade USA.

How to have a Fair Trade friendly Valentines Day!

6 Feb

Looking for an original way to show appreciation for your valentine this year? Commit to Fair Trade!

Here are some ideas on creative and socially responsible alternatives to the average Valentines Day gift:

1. Fair Trade Chocolate– Chocolate is an essential part of every Valentines Day, but this year consider options such as the Valentines products from Divine Chocolate, the only Fair Trade chocolate company which is 45% owned by the farmers. Company ownership gives the farmers a share of Divine’s profits and a stronger voice in the cocoa industry.  Another option, which comes in wide array of unique flavors is Alter Eco chocolate. They offer 10 different types of chocolate bars such as dark coconut toffee, dark quinoa, dark mint, and dark with crystallized orange peel. A third Fair Trade, organic option is Equal Exchange chocolate, which comes in a variety of forms and flavors, each as delicious as the next!

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2. Fair Trade Flowers Many people are not aware of the exploitation that occurs within the cut flower business in order to keep costs low.  Commit to buying Fair Trade flowers this Valentines Day in order to insure that you are not contributing to the mistreatment and abuse of workers.  One wonderful option is One World Flowers, an organization that sells all Fair Trade roses and has a large selection of Valentines Day bouquets.  One of the arrangements in particular, the Helping Haiti bouquet allows you to contribute to a cause while showing appreciation for your valentine because 10% of the purchase price is given as a donation to Samaritan’s Purse relief efforts in Haiti.  Another great option if there is a Whole Foods near you is to buy their Whole Trade Guaranteed or certified organic flower arrangements.  These floral products are grown according to strict criteria for ethical trade and earth-friendly farming.

Whole Foods Whole Trade Guaranteed Flower Selection

Whole Foods Whole Trade Guaranteed Flower Selection

One World Flowers Fair Trade Bouquet

One World Flowers Fair Trade Bouquet

3. Fair Trade Wine–  A bottle of wine is another essential component of most Valentines Day celebrations, so why not make it Fair Trade? There are now Fair trade wineries in Argentina, Chile and South Africa.  Here is a list of the the Top 10 Fair Trade Wines to help you make the best selection.

4. Fair Trade Jewelry & Accessories– At Hope For Women we are offering a Valentines Day special of 15% off select purple, red and pink products, which would make perfect gifts for your valentine! If you are looking to buy specifically gold jewelry for your special someone, check out Fair Trade and Fair Mined gold from the Fairtrade Foundation.

Tagua Twigs Cuff Bracelet - Fire -

Tagua Twigs Cuff Bracelet – Fire –

Fair Trade & Fair Mined Gold

Fair Trade & Fair Mined Gold

ReStyle Men's Wallet - Red -
ReStyle Men’s Wallet – Red –
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Happy World Environment Day! 5 Ways to Go Green

6 Jun

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Happy World Environment Day!

Did you know that even today, there are still less women than men in disciplines expected to create green jobs like energy, engineering, and industry? In fact, UN Women estimates that female employees make up only about 20 percent of the energy industry, most in nontechnical fields, but states that where women have been involved in environmental decision-making, greater improvements to education, clean water, and management of the environmental community have been among some of the results.

At Hope for Women, we believe not only in protecting the livelihood of women around the world, but also about protecting the environment around them. By working to sell fair trade products that are eco-friendly and come in environmentally sustainable packaging, we connect an empowering future for women with a more sustainable future for the environment, which we believe is the best future possible. So, in celebration of this mission and yesterday’s world environment day, we list here five ways that you can take part in this international event!

1. Rather than buying new things every time you need something, consider recycling and reusing products instead. For instance, freecycle is a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. And this isn’t the only one out there! For example, recycle:

2. Pack a waste-free lunch. That is, instead of using throw-away bags, paper napkins, and plastic silverware, use reusable containers, a cloth napkin, silverware, and a thermos or reusable water bottle. Even better: encourage everyone in your family, at school, and at the workplace to do the same!

3. Need new decorations for your home? Need help thinking up an inexpensive, thoughtful gift for a friend, relative, or neighbor? Consider eco-crafting! Here are some great, environmentally sustainable project ideas:

  • Rather than wasting paper by wrapping gifts, make gift bags from recycled newspaper!
  • Make dull lamp shades stand out by adding pages of recycled phone books, see here.
  • Combine wildflower seeds and recycled paper to make these cute seedbombs, a gift that once passed out, can keep growing!
  • Create beautiful magazine bowls out of your old magazines!
  • Reuse your old jeans to make pot holders, purses, tote bags, quilts, iPod holders, and more.

4. As much as possible, make your home tree-free! Try to replace paper napkins with cloth, print on recycled or once-used paper, leave messages on a dry-erase or other reusable message board, switch to a digital organizer for your grocery list (and then you can’t forget it at home either!), replace paper towels with rags (made from your unwanted clothes!) or cloth towels, pay bills online, etc.

5. Finally, the simplest gift is often the most powerful. By planting one tree for someone else or with someone else, you can pass along an eco-friendly message, insuring that World Environment Day 2012 will create a legacy of environmental sustainability for future generations. Because, really, every day is world environment day.

Want to read more? Check out these 50 simple ways you can help save the planet! And most importantly, don’t forget to pass the message along to someone else so you can contribute to a more eco-friendly world!

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Hope for Women featured in Stonyfield’s Rewards Program!

25 May

Did you know that Vermont has the highest people to cow ratio than any other state (almost 2:1)? For me, this and my love for all dairy products are some of the many reasons why supporting businesses like Stonyfield that create dairy products from local farms like those in Vermont and New Hampshire is so important. Aside from the delicious taste, buying Stonyfield yogurt has always made me feel good as a consumer because of Stonyfield’s commitment to community outreach, environmental efforts, and quality products.

And even though yogurt and Hope for Women’s fairtrade handcrafted items may seem like completely different products, there are many ways in which they are similar. Like Stonyfield, at Hope for Women we are committed to creating quality products that our costumers can both enjoy and feel good about purchasing because they are made with environmentally sustainable materials through fair business practices, and support women and families who need the income to survive. In this way, both Hope for Women and Stonyfield products are geared towards the “conscious consumer” who care not only about what they purchase, but about the story behind their purchases. It seems natural, then, for Stonyfield and Hope for Women to forge a connection between their products.

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Enter Stonyfield Rewards Program. Through this program, simply by eating yogurt and other Stonyfield products, you can get free Hope for Women handmade cards or tagua bracelets! Now, not only can eating Stonyfield Farm products support local farms (and their many Vermont cows) but it can also support women artisans in India who create beautiful tree-free (the paper is instead made from recycled cotton), non-toxic, and recycled pressed-flower cards and those in Colombia creating beautiful SimpliciTree tagua bracelets!

   
4-pack of India collection                    SimpliciTree tagua bracelet (amythest color)
handmade cards

To get involved, go to myStonyfield Rewards and create an account (it’s free and fast!). Once you have signed in, you can add points to your account by entering reward codes from the foil lids of Stonyfield Farm yogurt containers (or see the Stonyfield website for code locations on other products). Once you have enough points, you will be able to redeem them for items like Hope for Women’s 4-pack of handmade, Fair Trade Himalayan flower cards or SimpliciTree tagua tree bracelet! Thus, just by eating yogurt, you can help join the community of conscious consumers and support environmentally sustainable practices, fair trade, and women’s rights!

Seems like a pretty good deal to me! Free goods and community outreach all in one!