There are specific reasons why I love fair trade gifts. The most obvious reason is that it is ethical. I have peace of mind knowing a fair wage has been exchanged. Sweat shops simply do not exist in the world of fair trade production purely because families and communities constitute the 'workforce'.
Interestingly, these families and communities tend to specialise in a certain craft technique such as embroidery or jewellery making for example. Or they may focus on working with a specific kind of material like wood, bamboo, shell, silver or tin.
The reason for this characteristic of these specialised skills could be explained by traditional crafts being retained by families and communities that are passed down through each generation. A good example of this is the art of Zardozi, Aari and Kantha embroidery techniques still used in India today. Here, artisans apply traditional skills for fair trade homeware such as cushions, throws and embellished bags or scarves.
It is this very skill and craftsmanship that is another reason why I love fair trade. Since everything is made carefully by hand, it is in its own right, a work of art. Since I have always appreciated the skill and beauty of handmade gifts, discovering fair trade opened a whole new world. To me giving these items as gifts appeals to me very much. I feel it is like when you buy a card for someone you buy it with the character of the person in mind, but also to an extent, it reflects your own personality too. For example, I tend to buy cards that have an element of artiness about them like a watercolour illustration or some kind of creative montage element to them. The theme of the card tends to depend on who it is for and their likes and dislikes. So, for my grandma I may select flowers or for my granddad, a harbour scene or something more masculine.
I feel the same applies when I select ethical gifts. I have a friend who has a fixation with giraffes. Amongst the realm of giftware, there are many kinds of items available for me to choose from. Some examples would be giraffe money boxes, pencils with a carved giraffe, wooden giraffes and giraffes made from recycled tin!
It is this diverse range that illustrates another reason why I love giving ethical gifts. There are just so many items available it is a shopper's paradise. Another friend is a textile designer and so its easy to find a suitable gift for her like an embroidered wall hanging made from a patchwork of recycled silk array of materials with an eastern twist. I actually bought her a lovely hand made bag in brown suede embroidered with flowers on the front panel and embellished with sequins. It was beautifully made and had a jewel green lining and pocket. The bag was very affordable and suited her personality perfectly. She loved it and so did I!
Talking of bags, there is a wide selection of soft leather handbags too. I would like to put one on my Christmas list because I think the design and craftsmanship is exceptional.
So not only is fair trade ethical, but I also love the idea that everything is handmade making each product exclusive. Furthermore, producers are constantly modifying their designs so as to retain the appeal and keep the range refreshingly gorgeous.
I genuinely believe ethically produced gifts have so much more character and appeal purely because of the fascinating people that make them. For this reason, I would always choose fair trade.