December 2, 2010

Finding Joy in (Fair-Trade) Gift Giving. ~ Melinda Haselton

I don’t know about you, but my inbox has been inundated with holiday messages from a multitude of businesses–big and small–reminding me ‘tis the season’.

It’s easy to feel turned off by the materialism, but I have found a way to enjoy this time of year by bringing a little mindfulness to the process.

I put together my Christmas gift list and look forward to collecting special gifts for my loved ones. I remember last year, a few days before Christmas, laying all the gifts on my coffee table and feeling good that each one was either made by a local artist or by fair trade artists around the world.

Fair trade is more than a feel good purchase. It accomplishes so many things at once.

Gratitude: It allows us to give a thoughtful gift to the people closest to us–the people who enjoy life’s up and downs with us, who help us along the path and who we help along the path. It is a symbol of gratitude.

* Less is More: Because it is handmade, is it preserving craft and art forms that have been part of different cultures for countless years. These expressions are from the heart, they tell a human story and cannot be massed produced in factories with machines.

* Girl Power: 76% of fair trade artisans are women. That means that women are the ones benefiting from your fair trade purchases. They are receiving fair wages and health care, have access to literacy and health education among other great benefits. Learn more.

* Healing Communities: In my experience of working with fair trade artisan groups, I have seen communities uplifted by the alternative income and fair trade’s investment in education and health care.

When I think about giving gifts as a way that benefits everyone from the artisan to the recipient, it brings me joy. I hope some fair trade items make it on your list this year. Don’t know where to find them? Check out the Fair Trade Federation’s Holiday Gift Guide. All of the members listed in this guide are companies that are fully committed to fair trade principles. My business, Dolma, is featured on page 8.

Happy Holidays Elephant readers. I hope it’s a time of appreciation and abundance for all of you!

Melinda Haselton is the owner and founder of Dolma, a Burlington, Vermont-based fair trade company. She works with artisan groups and schools in India with the hope of healing communities through fair trade and education. She also serves as the Programs Director of Fair Trade Burlington. Find her on Twitter @DolmaFairTrade and Facebook.

Read 13 Comments and Reply