What happened to April showers? This year weather patterns in the Bay Area are certainly in flux. Just as I am getting used to this unusually dry, hot month of May, I am also transitioning from working at the San Francisco Fair Trade store, which closed its doors May 4th, to working full time at the Berkeley Fair Trade store.

This is my first season working at Global Exchange Fair Trade store in Berkeley  and I am experiencing the excitement and anticipation of students nearing the end of their school year or the end of their college life. Graduation is a major part of summer and graduation gifts are customary. What is better than to honor academic success than with a Fair Trade graduation gift?

Global Exchange Fair Trade shops have many graduation gifts to choose from. Let me help inspire the perfect gift for your graduate or teacher.Here are my top 5 graduation gifts under $25!

Fair Trade BirdsFlying Birds: $12.50 (Haiti) are made from recycled oil drums. These sweet birds symbolize freedom and make for a great end of the school year offering. Beautiful Haitian birds can live inside or outside adding hope to the wall on which they hang. They are light, pack flat, hang easy and come with either a stationary or 3D wing option.



Fair Trade Box

Treasure Boxes: $14.50 (India) are made from paper. These gems are new to our shop. They come in a variety of shapes and colors and are the perfect size to hold a special graduation treasure. Perhaps a inspirational quote or tickets to the Giants or A’s game or maybe some Fair Trade earrings for under $20! What would you put in this box? What is your favorite inspirational quote?



Prosperity Hens: $22 (India) are 45″ in length, made with cotton, beads, and a finishing bell. What better to give a graduate than the gift of prosperity? Prosperity hens are perfect to hang in any dorm, home or classroom. We also carry the ornament size, 8″ in length.



journal realRecycled Journals: $18.50 (India) are made from 100% recycled cotton. The pages in this journal are blank, eggshell white, and are so smooth to write on. This gift serves as a travel journal or to note daily inspirations. Let us, at Global Exchange, wrap it up in one of our recycled newspaper bags and feel the goodness of humane economics and conscious consumption take over!


dop kitTravel/Cosmetic Bag: $16.50 (Bali) made from cotton. I am serious when I say this is the perfect travel bag. They come in a variety of colors and sizing and have a zipper pouch on the inside which is fully lined so they are easy to clean. This bag is wonderful to give to someone who will be traveling this summer.



Fair Trade Gift CardBONUS GIFT IDEA: Gift Cards! Yes, Global Exchange offers gift cards and a beautiful assortment of note cards to go with them. Global Exchange gift cards can be made in any amount and do not expire! They are easy to give and loved by all graduates and teachers.



Take a break from the sun, come in for a graduation gift and take home a free Fair Trade gift! Just mention Graduation!

May your transitions go smooth and wherever you go, go with your heart.

P.S. Hope to see you at the Berkeley store (2840 College Ave (at Russell), Berkeley, CA 94705) soon – we changed the shop and it looks fantastic!

Balinese Wind Chimes at Global Exchange Fair Trade Store.

Balinese Wind Chimes at Global Exchange Fair Trade Store.

Recently, I joined a small group of Global Exchange staff members who visited our Global Exchange Fair Trade store in San Francisco. We went to celebrate our colleague Chelsea’s last day of a yearlong program in the development office at Global Exchange and to help her pick out some special items for her new apartment in Oakland, CA.

Since I usually shop at our Berkeley Fair Trade store, which is closer to my home, I loved seeing the updated layout of the San Francisco store and some of the new goodies in person.

I love the Capiz Shell wind chimes handmade in Bali, and I plan on buying some for my front porch soon. (I also love the big Balinese display umbrella … but I’m not sure how I could fit that into my studio apartment.)

Global Exchange Staffer Rebekah with her favorite Fair Trade bag.

Global Exchange Staffer Rebekah with her favorite Fair Trade bag.

The store also has on display my favorite tote bag made from recycled tires in El Salvador. I purchased one for myself last year, and I love the style of these bags and their durability, they’re perfect for city living. You can zip up the tote bag so that it’s fairly water resistant as well. Whenever I wear the bag on BART or elsewhere in public I get a lot of great comments and interest from people admiring the design or wanting to know more about the materials.

Global Exchange Staff Jessica and Chelsea with Chelsea's new Le Souk dishware.

Global Exchange Staff Jessica and Chelsea with Chelsea’s new Le Souk dishware.

Chelsea asked us to help her find just a few items she could bring to her new apartment to add a little bit of elegance and style. She decided on some pieces of the beautiful Le Souk Pottery dishware from Tunisia. She also picked up a pair of block-printed napkins to go with the dishes. Now Chelsea can invite us all over to use her beautiful dishes, and we won’t have to be sad she won’t be in the office anymore!

While we helped Chelsea look for dishware we couldn’t help but try on the beautiful wax print aprons handmade in Ghana. Behind us (in the pic below) you can see a whole wall full of goodies we wish we could take home with us too- Nabali Fair Trade Olive Oil, Fair Trade Peace Coffee, Fair Trade End the Embargo Coffee, and Fair Trade chocolates galore. Finally we had to force ourselves to leave the store before we spent our entire paychecks- too many beautiful things!

Next time you’re close by one Global Exchange’s Fair Trade stores in Noe Valley/SF or Berkeley, come visit and support the amazing artists and artisans behind these beautiful products. If you’re anything like us, once you enter, you won’t want to leave!

Love, your Global Exchange staff:

FT Store_2

Global Exchange staff members Drea, Jessica, Leo and Chelsea enjoying all the Fair Trade goodness!

We’ve all heard about the Plastic Island in the Pacific Ocean. We all know that plastic takes hundreds of years to decompose. There have been some novel ideas of what to do with plastic; schoolhouses and boats have been made out of plastic bottles.

Now, there’s upcycled plastic jewelry.

Upcycling is taking something that you would otherwise throw out and finding a way to make it into something else, something high quality and useful.

Here are some examples now available at the Global Exchange Fair Trade Store in San Francisco (map):

  • The Salt Lake City-based group Ambre Industries creates high-design collections with low-impact materials from around the world. The jewelry is made up of between 40-100% recycled materials, resulting in a very “green”  yet modern product.
  • Ambre Industries upcycled plastic line feature these hollow dew drop earrings, which are light, durable, and plastic! The intricate black designs are hand-knotted Raffia Palm leaf fibers, made by women between the ages of 18-24, from the remote village of Solukhumbu, Madagascar. This work of knitting lace-like configurations into jewelry pays for their college education. Sterling silver hooks complete the look of these elegant and contemporary earrings.
  • This Eco-resin ring is 40% recycled material.  The royal stone Eco-resin gem is hand sanded and is the perfect modern hand accessory.
  • Upcycling does not stop at plastic. These great new wristlets by Handmade Expressions are made out of 100% recycled fabric, plastic, and upcycled  cassette tapes! These bags are handcrafted by young adults with special needs from underprivileged communities  in metropolitan Delhi. The artisans are provided vocational training as a part of their overall development in order to inspire their creativity and help prepare them to become self sufficient in the future.

Upcycling is a great way to convert waste materials into usable products of high quality, keeping plastic and other materials that are non-biodegradable out of landfills, while also limiting new production pollution. Stop by the Global Exchange Fair Trade Store in San Francisco for these great new upcycled products and more!

In honor of the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day on March 8th, Global Exchange is teaming up with farmer-owned chocolate company Divine Chocolate to celebrate the women of Divine’s farmer collective, Kuapa Kokoo. This Spring, Divine will be donating a portion of their sales to the Kuapa Kokoo’s Women’s Project; they’re teaching women cocoa farmers how to start small businesses, earn extra family income, and feel tremendous pride. You can show your support by purchasing Divine Chocolate 3.5 oz bars at the San Francisco Global Exchange Store (map) for the month of March, and we’ll give you $1.00 off!

Supporting Divine Chocolate and the Kuapa Kokoo cooperative is supporting real farmers, and not simply a chocolate company. Divine is the only Fair Trade chocolate company that is 45% owned by farmers. While being certified Fair Trade ensures that farmers receive a better price for their cocoa, company ownership gives farmers a share of Divine’s profits!

The partial liberalization of Ghana’s cocoa market in the early 1990s created a unique situation for cocoa farmers to organize in an industry where their voices were not being heard. Visionary farmer Nana Frimpong  Abrebrese organized a group of farmers to pool resources and set up a farmer’s co-op, which would trade its own cocoa, and thus manage the selling process more efficiently than the government cocoa agents. Kuapa Kokoo, which means “good cocoa growers,” was born.

In 1997, the reputable and fast-growing Kuapa Kokoo’s farmer collective had another idea. If they could manage a cocoa-farming cooperative, why not manage a chocolate company?

Divine Chocolate was born. Now a leading Fair Trade brand, Divine has given its farmers a secure source of Fair Trade income. Kuapa Kokoo invests in building schools, sinking wells and clean drinking water for villages, providing mobile medical clinics for farmers in remote growing regions, and fostering women’s income generation projects to help women earn additional income for their families when the cocoa season is over.

You can celebrate the women of Kuapa Kokoo this spring by purchasing Divine Chocolate at San Francisco’s Global Exchange Store! $1.00 off all 3.5 oz bars for the month of March.