Monday, January 31, 2011

Fair Trade Your Valentine's Day

Here's an idea - this year, rather than celebrating just your love for each other on Valentine's Day, why not make a pact with your sweetie (or yourself, if you're celebrating your singledom!) to make Valentine's Day a love-fest for workers and artists around the world? How, you ask? Fair trade, baby! :-)

Today I have fair trade alternatives to share with you to tried and true V-Day standbys (chocolate and flowers), plus some more non-traditional ideas.

Let's kick things off with chocolate, as I am often wont to do... my personal favorite is Sjaaks. At our local Sjaaks (i.e. Venlo Chocolates) storefront in Old Town Eureka (CA), I recently found the sweetest truffle gift box - not only are the chocolates inside vegan and fair trade, but the box itself is hand crafted from recycled paper by a fair trade womens cooperative in Thailand. And yes, you can also buy it online for $17.50.

Here's another adorable box - this time it's dark chocolate cherry truffles for $16.95.

Another option is Sweet Earth Chocolates. This gorgeous gift box is sure to wow your special someone! ($40.00)

And for the true romantic, I can totally picture these sweet foil wrapped hearts strewn across the bed along with some rose petals (don't forget to request vegan filling; $8.95). :-)

On to the flowers! About 80% of the cut flowers sold in the U.S. are grown outside of the country. Workers on these farms are often cheated out of salaries, abused, and taken advantage of by their employers to keep costs low. Fair Trade Certification is a guarantee that the farms will receive a fair price for their flowers, workers are paid and treated properly, and the environment is cared for. Because of Fair Trade, communities can reap the benefits of global trade while building sustainable social, economic, and environmental business practices.

So where can you find ethically produced fair trade flowers?

My personal favorite has to be these gorgeous dusky sunset roses from Organic Bouquet ($49.95).

And you absolutely can't go wrong with any bouquet from Organic Bouquet's Flowers For Good selection. When you purchase any of these charitable bouquets, 5% of the purchase price goes to a variety of deserving charities.

Now if (like me), you're not much of a Valentine's traditionalist, perhaps the idea of a charitable gift in your sweetie's honor might appeal to you. Here are a couple of options in that vein -

Kiva's mission is to connect people, through lending, for the sake of alleviating poverty. Kiva empowers individuals to lend to an entrepreneur across the globe. By combining microfinance with the internet, Kiva is creating a global community of people connected through lending. A Kiva gift card is sure to make your charitably minded better half swoon.

Or, if you will indulge my promotion of my own personal current pet project (ha ha, bad pun), please consider donating a bed to the dogs at the Humboldt County Animal Shelter. I recently discovered that these dogs have nothing to sleep on but cement and an occasional blanket, so I'm working to outfit the whole facility with these comfortable, durable beds. My goal is 50 beds and so far I've raised enough money for about 18.

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