As Christmas approaches, we all go a little crazy and consume more than we usually would. Here are five questions that every mindful consumer should ask – all in the spirit of giving!
1) Who made it? (Or grew it?)
At The Shop for Change, we believe in 100% transparency. We want to know the factory or farm where the product originated, as well as who works there and how they are treated. At the very least, you want to know that the business you are supporting does not use child labour and that its workers are paid a fair wage.
2) Am I buying for maximum social impact?
Many companies have business models designed to do social good – but not all are as effective as they claim. We generally prefer to go for companies that take the ‘trade not aid’ approach and empower disadvantaged communities by providing sustainable employment, skills development and access to education – rather than merely giving them handouts.
3) Is it safe for the environment?
A lot of labels proclaim a product to be cruelty-free, organic, free-range or natural – but how can you be sure that you’re not just falling for a marketing tactic? One way is to check for certifications, or – because these can be costly to obtain – buy direct from a farm or seller you trust.
4) Is this the best quality I can afford?
Buying high quality products is another way to protect the environment by reducing waste. It’s tempting to take advantage of a bargain, but poorly made products break easily and end up as landfill. Quality may cost more at first but it’s worth it in the long run.
5) Do I need more info?
If a product’s packaging and marketing material lacks supply chain information, why not contact the company directly and find out for yourself? Most companies are willing to answer questions that their consumers ask them. And if they are cagey, do you really want to support them?
For a great range of handcrafted gifts with social and environmental impact, head over to The Shop for Change.Comments
The Shop for Change welcomes a new seller, Original T-Bag Designs, to our online marketplace. This unique social enterprise uses objects that so many of us toss aside every day – used teabags – and turns them into gorgeous and functional items.
‘A woman is like a tea-bag. You only know how strong she is when she is put in hot water.’ – Eleanor Roosevelt
This organisation was founded by artist Jill Heyes with the aim of empowering women living in the informal settlement of Imizamo Yethu, Cape Town. There are few employment opportunities in this impoverished community, where many people live with HIV/AIDS and struggle to access basic human rights such as safe water, proper sanitation and education. Original T-Bag Designs provides a group of women (and a few men) with the opportunity to earn a stable income, thus improving their sense of self worth and daily quality of life.
The used bags are dried, emptied, ironed and painted carefully by hand. These miniature works of art are then applied to purposeful products such as greeting cards and other stationery, decor items, tableware, bags, accessories and gifts. The possibilities that this art form opens up are endless and the team is constantly adding new products to the range.
If you would like to see how such a humble, everyday item such as a teabag can be transformed into something so striking and full of hope, then head on over to The Shop!Comments
Daughters of Cambodia is an NGO that operates near the brothels of Phnom Penh and gives the victims of sex-trafficking a chance to start a new life.
They are not a shelter and they don’t do handouts. They are a fair-trade employer that offers jobs to sex workers in one of the small businesses that they run. In addition to good working conditions and higher than average salaries, they provide training, childcare facilities, medical treatment and psychological support.
And now they’re giving you an opportunity to fight trafficking in Cambodia without leaving your country. Join their Representative Programme and make a difference by selling their products, locating donors or recruiting volunteers.Comments