While I am not that enthusiastic about shopping (largely owing to my goal to save money and to reduce my “ownership of stuff”), when I do shop, I want to be able to find good buys that suit both my tastes and my price range or fair trade treasures.  This past week, I devoted some time to shopping for fair trade products with the intention of celebrating Fair Trade Month (an annual global event occurring in the month of October).

Being the creature of habit that I am, I initiated my shopping expedition on the Internet with a Google search of “fair trade” products.  I learned a lot here about fair trade in general.  Specifically, I discovered that there are several “fair trade organizations” whose labels certify its members as being in compliance with fair trade rules and standards.  These organizations include, but are not limited to:

 Fair Trade USA








Fair Trade International

fairtrade International








Fair Trade Federation











Most of the products that I found were coffee, tea, handcrafts, sugar, bananas, honey, cotton, fresh fruit, chocolate, flowers and gold.  I also found some sports balls, particularly soccer balls; however, with my soccer children all being adults now, there was not anything there for me.  After poking around some more, I found some nice scarves.

Then needing a break, I visited my favorite local garden store, Homestead Gardens, where lo and behold, I was greeted by a beautiful display of fair trade roll-on bracelets by a company called Aid Through Trade.





Then I went to Target and found that several of the products they carry are certified green and fair trade.  I am confident that with more time, for visiting stores in my area, I will find many other fair trade products.

On my return to my computer, my search for “fair trade” products took a new and unexpected turn.   I branched out beyond the restrictions of sites operated by the major fair trade organizations, and instead, looked for products, particularly clothing, that I liked.  In each instance, while browsing the various online company catalogs, I also read the sections of the websites entitled “our story” or “our mission” and discovered many businesses, who may not carry the “fair trade certification” issued by the major fair trade organizations or federations, but who endorse sustainability, practice fair trade in their dealings with exporters who provide their materials and who promote conservation and clean energy initiatives.

The lesson learned here is that we definitely should support the certified fair trade organizations for the remarkable work that they perform and their efforts to ensure decent wages to exporters of so many of the products that we enjoy.   However, we also should support companies not listed on these sites under these “certified fair trade labels”  who also work hard to deliver quality products, treat their employees and their business partners fairly while investing in their local communities.  These companies often are under the radar of widespread advertisement, but they are the “fair trade treasures.”  I hope that each of you will get out this month and do a little shopping, paying visits to small businesses and boutiques in your neighborhoods to discover your own “fair trade treasures.”  To do so is to live green, be green.

Orthographic map of Africa

Orthographic map of Africa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We here at LGBG would like to take this opportunity to update our readers and supporters on Africa Inside’s project to eliminate plastic bag pollution from the African countryside.  This program is the brainchild of Lori Robinson, Africa Adventures Specialist for the Jane Goodall Institute.  Lori has dedicated considerable time and effort to promote conservation through the development of programs to educate Africans about the protection of its most precious resources, wildlife and environmental.

LGBG is proud to sponsor and partner with Lori and Africa Inside to rid the African countryside of discarded plastic bags, which kill wildlife when ingested out of  curiosity, clog rivers and streams, get caught up in trees and bushes and release toxins when burned.  Lori’s “bag exchange” program has been successful as a simple and effective solution to plastic bag pollution.  For every 25 bags picked up from the countryside and turned in on exchange days, each individual receives a sturdy reusable tote from America, which are very popular and sought after by African citizens.  We have been working diligently to get donations of reusable bags, as well as funds to ship the bags to Lori.  We thank you for your support to date, and we urge you to continue to help Africa Inside advance this wonderful cause.

Africa Inside’s next plastic litter cleanup will take place in Samburu, Kenya in August 2013.  We still are still collecting bags and financial donations to ensure the success of this project.  For information on how you can help, please visit the Africa Inside website at http://africainside.org/globalconservation/one-wordplastics/ or contact us here at LGBG.com.  Africa Inside is supported by the Creative Visions Foundation, a publicly supported 501(c)3.  Upon receipt of donations, each contributor will receive the necessary receipt for tax deductions.

Once again, LGBG thanks you for your support to date for Africa Inside’s mission.  To support such a wonderful cause is to live green be green.

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For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Green America organization, as I’d imagine the majority of people are not, it is the feature of this week’s spotlight.  Green America: Come Together.

That is the organization’s tagline, and that is indeed what they strive for.  Basically, GA is a not-for-profit membership group that constantly aims to harness economic power, through the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace, in order to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society. This mission may sound like it’s full of huge ideas, and it is!  All of which, however, make perfect sense and seem extremely attainable, given the organization’s current vision for the future:

We work for a world where all people have enough, where all communities are healthy and safe, and where the bounty of the Earth is preserved for all the generations to come.

What is extra interesting about GA is its focus on economic variables in order to reach the roots of many social and environmental issues.  They take action against abusive business practices, whether obvious or not, and try to change them to more socially just and environmentally responsible ways.

In fact, GA does virtually all it can to help businesses convert to eco-friendly practices.  The organization offers and issues its Green America’s Green Business Certification, which allows not only recognition to individuals and businesses, but resources as well.  The group has a massive network of environmentally friendly firms along all areas of the conventional value chain of the business world, from producers to retailers, from marketing to financing.

Green America Green Business Certification

For more information on exactly what criteria potential members of Green America’s Green Business Certification program must meet, visit the organization’s site and learn more!