Shoes and sweatshops. Two words too often connected.

Finding ethical footwear is a challenge, but you’ll be happy to know that Global Exchange’s Fair Trade Store in San Francisco (map) is introducing a new line of beautiful and ethically designed espadrilles from a worker-owned factory in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The worker-owned factory was part of the larger “recovered factories movement” that occurred in the wake of Argentina’s dramatic economic collapse of 2001. As factories were closing and unemployment was growing, hundreds of workers were locking themselves inside their former work places and operating as a democratically-run cooperative.

Learn more about the “recovered factories movement” at this week’s in-store film screening and discussion of The Take, a documentary film by Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein (see details below).

The summery espadrilles, called Pauline by Ethical Soles, are handmade of cotton canvas by some of these revolutionary factory workers. The ethical soles come in chile pepper red, Caribbean green, and gray, and can be yours for a fair price of $58 a pair (or two pairs for $98).

“These products represent a revolution in the apparel industry,” says Paula Surraco, a designer who has worked with the co-op for five years.“When you buy these shoes, you are empowering the workers to forge their own economic lives, building a factory and a business they own and providing them with dignified labor and fair salaries and conditions.”

Want to know more about the Reclaimed Factories Movement? Join us this Wednesday night at the Global Exchange Fair Trade Store in San Francisco for an in-store viewing of The Take. FREE! And free wine will be served!

Where: Global Exchange Fair Trade Store. 4018 24th St. San Francisco, CA. 94114. (415)648-8068

When: Wednesday, August 10th. Film begins at 6 pm.

Fair Trade updates, filled with celebrity news, product launches, and industry developments. It’s Fair Trade Roundup time!

A new line of ethically designed shoes made in a worker-owned factory in Buenos Aires, Argentina was just introduced to the Global Exchange Store in San Francisco. The ethical soles Pauline by Ethical World are made of cotton canvas on the outside, the insoles of folded cotton linen and original patterned fabrics. Each pair comes inside a small bag to match. Yours for the reasonable price of $58 or two pair for $98. Color choices? Chile pepper red, Caribbean green, and gray.

Like other co-ops who are part of the larger “recovered factories movement” the members of the co-op where these shoes are made were expelled from their factory when the local economy went bust back in 2001, and many factory owners shuttered their businesses. As desperation grew, some impoverished workers broke back into their former work places, got the machinery up and running, operating the businesses again under a democratic management scheme. More than 200 companies have been “recovered” by workers and become cooperatives.

Paula Surraco, a designer who has worked with the co-op for five years, shared his thoughts about the shoes:

“In Buenos Aires, everyone wears espadrilles! They are comfortable, casual, and fun. Our shoes are designed and made with the utmost attention to detail, with each stitch and fold handcrafted by artisans. When you buy these shoes, you are empowering the workers to forge their own economic lives, building a factory and a business they own and providing them with dignified labor and fair salaries and conditions. These products represent a revolution in the apparel industry.”

Jocelyn Boreta, buyer at Global Exchange’s Noe Valley store, was eager to offer them to customers because she feels there is a dearth of good Fair Trade shoes in the marketplace.

These shoes are practical and playful and represent the real people powered production that we celebrate at the Global Exchange Fair Trade Stores. It is extremely hard to find beautiful, well-made fair trade shoes in the US. We are certain our fair trade shoppers will appreciate them.”

To find out more about the Reclaimed Factories Movement: Watch The Take, a compelling documentary produced by Naomi Klein and husband Avi Lewis.

To Purchase a Pair: Grab yours at the Global Exchange Fair Trade Store in San Francisco, CA .
Where: 4018 24th Street, San Francisco CA
Questions: call 415-255-7296 or email Jocelyn Boreta


Join activists nationwide placing s’more-tastic child labor consumer alert cards on Hershey chocolate bars in stores, videotaping the action, and sending it to friends.

This action is one of the early uses of Quick Response (QR) codes for social justice actions! People who see the consumer alerts will be able to take action right away by reading the QR code with their smartphones.

Actions are happening all summer!

To take part in this action: Get your ideas flowing. Watch this video of some folks taking part in the action:

Ready to Get Started? Everything you need to do your own action is available right here on the Raise the Bar Hershey website.

Gretchen Jones sporting one of her necklaces Photo Credit:

Gretchen Jones, the big Season 8 winner of the hit reality television show Project Runway, recently launched a socially responsible jewelry line on Piperlime.

The line features pieces of metal transformed into aesthetically interesting shapes, a little bit modern and little bit vintage that ends up looking a whole lot cool.

To produce this collection, Gretchen collaborated with Aid to Artisans, an organization promoting international development, with designers collaborating with artisan groups to craft award winning products. Each piece in this collection was handcrafted by local artisans in Columbia. Jones visited the country in May to meet the producers.

Eden Dawn, who writes for Portland Monthly, caught up with Gretchen Jones who had this to share about her new collection:

I chose to work with Aid to Artisans, as it sets an example how we all can come together and consciously create beautiful work while helping others. Sustainability within humanitarian endeavors has economic relevance…its doesn’t always have to be about the materials alone, but the shared experience.  Supporting crafts people across the globe makes me feel good about the work I do and proud of what can be attained when broadening your [our] horizons.

You can view the entire collection (and see a video of Gretchen’s visit to Columbia) on Just remember, not everything on this site is Fair Trade, so if you’re going to shop responsibly, do your reading first.


THE SACREMENTO BEE: Dr. Bronner’s to U.S. Congress: Regulate Unsafe Cosmetics!
Professional Jeweler: What will Fairtrade gold mean for the industry?
Commodity Online: Gold free of guilt: What Fairtrade Certification can do
The co-operative magazine: Emma Watson’s teacher inspired fairtrade fashion
World Fair Trade Organization: 10 Principles of Fair Trade
Fair Trade USA: Celebrating the African Women of Fair Trade
Gifts and Tablewares: Chicago Market to Feature Fair Trade Federation Pavilion

Got interesting Fair Trade news to share? Email me or share it in the comments section. We’re all ears!