Global Exchange is a membership-based international human rights organization dedicated to promoting social, economic, and environmentsl justice around the world.

Linking Economic and Environmental Sustainability on Earth Day

18th April, 2012 - Posted by Alex Cole-Weiss - No Comments

Bracelets made from re-used paper? Yep!

In honor of Earth Day, the Global Exchange Fair Trade stores are excited to offer a special deal this weekend on some of our beautiful recycled paper products from Mai Handicrafts and Project Have Hope:

Come by April 21-April 22 to receive a FREE recycled magazine bracelet from Project Have Hope when you mention the secret password “Fair for the Earth“  and purchase $20 or more in product made from recycled paper.

Why celebrate Earth Day by choosing Fair Trade? Because environmental sustainability is inextricably linked to social & economic sustainability. When our economic system is based on massive profit accumulation at the expense of the workers and the environment–we cannot simply celebrate Earth Day by planting a tree and calling it day.

Should we all plant a tree on April 22? Sure. But imagine networks of cooperatively-run Fair Trade tree-nurseries that generate income opportunities for local farmers and fund biodiversity education for children. That project could bear a lot more fruit than one lone tree.

Women in the Acholi quarter in Uganda receive a reliable monthly payment for their beads. Photo Courtesy of Project Have Hope.

As one vision of an alternative market economy, Fair Trade can provide an important connection between creative thinking around solutions to inequality, and waste diversion.

What does that mean, exactly?

Many Fair Trade organizations and businesses work with individuals whose resources are “limited”—this is where  creativity and waste can come together sustainably.

Here’s one example: The women who work with Project Have Hope turn to local printing presses for low cost “reject” paper, or simply collect scrap paper from magazines, posters, whatever is available locally. This low cost raw material is then up-cycled into beautiful paper bead jewelry, providing economic stability for the women, plus educational opportunities for them and their children.

Mai Handicraft artisan weaver Chut is able to work at home, which allows her to also take care of her children when her husband is busy. Photo Courtesy of Richard Else & Traidcraft.

Creative re-use is an important element of the Fair Trade economy. In a world of excessive production and waste, it is a radical step towards recognizing the value of local resources, both material and immaterial, to generate better standards of living without resorting to dependence on charity. Through the work of organizations like Mai Handicrafts, economically disadvantaged people are acknowledged and valued as artisans, keeping craft practices alive for future generations, and contributing to the social and environmental sustainability of their communities today.

On Earth Day we celebrate this amazing planet we live on, and acknowledge our collective responsibility to take care of it. But we never celebrate alone–instead, we celebrate our global communities’ efforts to come together around shared values, and we demand a prioritization of healthy people AND environment, instead of exploitation.

Fair Trade recycled products, like those from Mai Handicrafts and Project Have Hope, offer alternatives to mass-produced commodities, and remind us: people deserve a stable livelihood and trash can be turned into treasure.

Will we see you on Earth Day? We hope to see you on April 21st or 22nd so you can receive your FREE recycled magazine bracelet. Happy Earth Day! Here’s a list of our store locations.

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