Fair Trade Knitting Communities of Bolivia and Peru

I had the good fortune of being welcomed to Global Exchange as a sales associate at the San Francisco Fair Trade Store a few weeks before Global Exchange’s 25th Anniversary celebration. I met many new people and felt an inkling my new job would suit me in ways I didn’t know yet.

Since then, I’ve learned more about how Fair Trade works than I imagined I could. While buying Fair Trade products has always been a way for me to support sustainable economic and environmental practices for workers whose livelihood depends on it, it’s now a way to connect with people in a way I didn’t before. I’m beginning to feel the love.blue andes gifts

I like things: fashion, texture, beautifully crafted, soulful goods I can wrap around my shoulders, press my cheek to, or bounce thoughtfully in the cup of my palm. But things are things. I thought, Fair Trade products are still things.

That’s the nature of it, but there’s also that feeling you get knowing the story behind each handmade item…the love. For example, when you hold an Andes Gifts alpaca wool hat in all its squish-soft, insulating gorgeousness, and you know it’s making a positive impact on people’s lives and the environment, it becomes more than a thing, it becomes a gift.

challenge-header-2Andes Gifts, based in Davis, California, provides free knitting instruction, as well as successful micro-loans to increase earning capacity, to women in rural indigenous communities in Bolivia and Peru. Within some of the most economically impoverished areas in the western hemisphere, Andean communities often unravel due to disjointed childcare, work, and family structure.

The opportunity to knit colorful, intricate designs and make a living through Andes Gifts helps these red andes giftscommunities stay together.

Knitters work in their homes or in co-ops where they have access to the resources they need, and work as much as they need to at their own pace. Women can stay close to their children and participate in local traditions. Knitters provide for themselves and their families, and make statements like, “I plan on knitting until I’m a grandmother”. That’s a loving thing for all it’s implications.


We invite you to visit our Fair Trade stores in Berkeley and San Francisco, CA to see for yourself the beauty of Andes Gifts.

Happy Holidays everybody,

Here’s your healthy dose of Fair Trade news. But first, a warm n cozy fair trade giveaway announcement!


Stop by any Global Exchange store now through December 24th, and we’ll give you one FREE gift when you buy any three gifts from our selection of alpaca knit gloves, hats, and scarves.

Here’s a sample shopping list:

Mom: Choose from a wide selection of beautiful hand-woven scarves. Whether she loves 100% alpaca, alpaca-acrylic blends, bright colors, soft colors, traditional or modern styles, we have the perfect scarf for her.

Dad: Keep that head warm this winter! Dad will love our alpaca hats – choose from classic beanies or colorful styles with earlaps and tassels!

Sister: Fingerless gloves are the perfect winter gift for sis. We have a beautiful and extensive selection this year; everything from colorful patterns to tasteful, simple gloves. Be sure to check out our slouchy arm warmers too.

Brother: FREE gloves or hat. Choose from a variety of Nepalese wool gloves or hats, FREE with the purchase of any winter knit items.

This offer is good at any Global Exchange store through December 24th or while supplies last.

Photo Credit: Hoop Fund


Have you heard of Hoop Fund yet? Self-described as “a unique crowd-funding platform that enables you to enjoy ethically produced products and to invest in the farmers and artisans behind these goods.” Basically, when you purchase with the Hoop Fund, you’re buying a product, plus you’re also providing a loan to the person/people who make the product.

For those of you still in need of holiday gifts, check out their site!

For you fair trade businesses out there, I noticed on their site they welcome partnerships with brands that practice fair trade principles, so might be worth checking out for potential future collaboration. There are some recognizable fair trade names already involved, including Alter Eco and Indigenous Designs.

Sustainable Food Summit 2011


What is the future role of Fair Trade and other eco-labels in a food industry that is increasingly looking at the ‘triple bottom line’? This summit aims to address this question.

From the Sustainable Foods Summit website: Learn, debate and discuss the major developments in eco-labels and sustainability at the Sustainable Foods Summit. The fifth edition of this international series of summits takes place in San Francisco on 17-18 January 2012. Like previous events organized by Organic Monitor, it  will bring together key stake-holders to debate and discuss key sustainability issues.

To get a taste of what to expect, here’s a video from the Summit last year:


San Francisco Chronicle: Victoria’s Secret cotton unravels kids’ lives

Cotton from her first went from her hands onto the trucks of a Burkina Faso program that deals in cotton certified as fair trade. The fiber from that harvest then went to factories in India and Sri Lanka, where it was fashioned into Victoria’s SecretRead article, or listen to this story on NPR.

MarketWatch: Callebaut(R) Launches Fairtrade Certified Chocolate

Callebaut(R) Finest Belgian Chocolate(TM) announced the launch of Fairtrade certified versions of its popular 811NV (55.3% Cacao Dark), 823NV (35.1% Milk) and 70-30-38NV (70% Cacao Dark) references to confectioners, bakers and pastry chefs. Read article.

NOW Toronto: Fair trade war brewing NOW Toronto

Split in movement signals a new tolerance for corporate farming and retailing: Here’s a bit of bad news that emerges, ironically, from a generally good-news situation. The meteoric rise of ethical consuming over the past decade has given rise to forces causing the first serious split in fair trade ranks in over 25 years. Read article.

Journalist’s Resource: Does Fair Trade Deliver on Its Core Value Proposition? Effects on Income, Educational Attainment, and Health in Three Countries

A 2009 study by researchers at the University of Wyoming, the University of Nebraska and the International Cotton Advisory Committee published in the Journal of Public Policy and Marketing, “Does Fair Trade Deliver on Its Core Value Proposition? Effects on Income, Educational Attainment, and Health in Three Countries,” examined how participation in an alternative trade organization (ATO) focused on fair trade affected the family income, education and health of producers. Read article.

Grist: Fair trade lite: Fair Trade USA Moves Away From Worker Co-ops 

Compared to so many other purchasing decisions — the “Certified Fair Trade” logo has made buying ethically produced coffee a relatively simple choice. Most of us either buy fair trade or we don’t. But that’s all about to change. Read article.

The Guatemalan Times: Mexican Small Farmer Fair Trade Producers Speak Out: we can only move forward with authentic fair trade

On December 7th, Francisco VanDerhoff Boersma, co-founder of the first fair trade certifying body, Max Havelaar, and the renowned small farmer co-operative in Mexico, UCIRI (Union of Indigenous Communities of the Region of Isthmus)  submitted the following extremely important proclamation from the Mexican Coordinator of Small Fair Trade Producers as a comment on our earlier blog post. Due to its importance, I’ve taken the liberty to have it translated from Spanish and am posting it here. Read translation.

Check back here in January on our Fair Trade blog for the next Fair Trade News Round-Up…your one-stop shop for current Fair Trade news and events. And if you’ve got big Fair Trade news to share, email me. Happy Holidays and New Year to you!

Martha Stewart Animal PalsThe Martha Stewart Show recently featured Global Exchange’s line of Fair Trade Animal Pal Alpaca dolls during a segment of her show.  You can watch the entire show here (near end of the show.)  The segment features Faraway Farm owners Leda Blumberg, one of Global Exchange’s customers.

You can check out our entire line of Fair Trade Animal Pals at http://www.globalexchangestore.org/Soft-and-Cozy-Animal-Pals-p/peap1.htm.