Saturday, January 31, 2009

Going Fair Trade

I had a vision. In the middle of Superstore. It went like this. I saw a young mother in Cambodia. Sewing dresses in a factory. Pretty dresses. Spring flowers all over. Tears run down her face. Thinking of her little girl with grandma back home. Smell of sweat. Barely know the woman who work at the sewing machine right next to her because she has to sew so many dresses a day. No time to chat while at work. Her little girl back home. In rags. She looks at the dress and wonders who would wear this. A wealthy westerner? A princess? She thinks, “I sure would love to have something so pretty for my little girl….” “Maybe in my next life, I will be so lucky”
I am holding the dress at the checkout at Superstore. “$14. Made in Cambodia”. I shake the vision off my mind and pay for the dress…for my little Tori. So pretty.

We hear the term “Fair Trade” alot lately. It’s funny what can become “trendy”. If Martha Stewart puts it in her magazine, you can be assured that it will become trendy even if it was seriously ugly. I am baffled at the things that are considered “trendy” these days. I get a bit annoyed when people buy ‘Fair Trade” goods simply because it’s trendy. But I shouldn’t be so skeptical. It could be worse.

I’ve always had a “green” streak in my heart. But with this vision of Cambodian mother and some encouragement from some dear friends, I’ve become more interested in thinking about the process of a product getting into my hand beginning with how the materials are gathered. Now, let me be clear. I am not here to ‘preach’ on my little soap box or point finger at those who do not agree. This has been my journey lately and I just want to write about it. I’m not here to criticize anyone. So, after that being said….whenever Tori wears that dress, I think of her…the young mother. She may be just a fragment of my imagination, but she made me think differently about things that I own. I went through the house and packed away a bunch of stuff, starting with toys. I am hoping to have a garage sale in the next few weeks. I talked to Scott about taking a different approach when it comes to birthday celebrations. Just 1 or 2 friends and take them to the Zoo or Science Centre and DO something really special. Spend more time doing stuff with kids. Talking to them more. Playing games, exercising our imaginations. Playing “I spy” in the car. Painting rocks.

Anyways, I realized that being “Fair Trade” will make me the kind of a mother I’ve always strived to be. More involved, roll on the floor with the kids kind of a mom. Let me be clear here though. The last thing I want through this journey is making my kids suffer with the sense of guilt. They are so little and they don’t understand…not yet. But maybe a bit by bit, they will. I took them to “Ten Thousand Villages” the other day. They thought the store had some wonderful things from around the world. I want to help their eyes to be open to the bigger world around them. As we carefully took each item off the shelf to examine them, I told them, “this came from a country called Thailand…Uncle Sam and Auntie Cecile’s baby was born there. And they have elephants there.”

So, yes, we have “My Littlest Pet shop” and I shop at Joe Fresh Clothing. I don’t think I am a fanatic. But I can say truly that by thinking twice about things we buy and trying to minimize our consumption, I feel more fulfilled. I see more of my kids and I feel close to them. I have less and simpler life, but my joy has been doubled. Ironic isn’t it?

I’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg at this point in my journey. I had my first cup of Fair Trade coffee today. I’m not a coffee drinker…at all. I loved it! I am also aware that it is next to impossible to go completely ‘religious’ about this kind of life style. So, I intend to not make myself or those around me especially my family feel guilty when we are not able to access fair trade goods. But rather, when we come across them, I want to take interest and delight in the discovery of how things have been made. And in the process, maybe I get to be a good mom…now, that’s a bonus, for sure.

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