Feature photo Didier Gentilhomme

Times are tough; money is tight. Suddenly that step through the automatic doors into the air-conditioned confines of the nearest big-box, discount warehouse doesn’t seem so difficult. My suggestion: turn around and head to your nearest Fair Trade shop or shop online. Instead of buying that 10lb canister of Folgers coffee, imagine yourself drinking a cup of the tastiest brew grown in Chiapas, Mexico and roasted in Forest Park (Greenheart offers this 1lb bag for 11.50). How about NOT buying your niece that Hannah Montana DVD and getting her a beautiful handmade doll from India? Deciding to make Fair Trade purchases instead of buying from the bargain bin are good for you and the producer. Sometimes buying Fair Trade will mean spending less. Other times, a few more dollars will be necessary. Theimpact? Getting much needed, much appreciated funds directly to the people and artists creating the products.

One-of-a-kind Fair Trade gifts, food, and cosmetics are within reach! Shops such as Greenheart and 10,000 Villages are among the presences in the Fair Trade community of Chicago. Online stores are numerous and affordable, too.

Greenheart: This shop is located at 1911 W. Division and are not only devoted to helping get funds to much needed artisans but also to sell products made from sustainable, earth-friendly materials. As their website states, the “Greenheart” initiative was brought to Chicago by the founders of the Center for Cultural Interchange. They’ve been in Chicago since 2007, and they aren’t going anywhere. Jewelry, handbags, paper goods, and recycled products are among their inventory. Check their website, greenheartshop.org, for information about events, volunteer opportunities, and links to other eco-friendly companies in Chicago.

10,000 Villages: With four locations throughout Illinois and all over the US and Canada, 10,000 Villages offers artisan products from 38 countries. The organization was founded in 1946 by Edna Ruth Byler and ran out of the trunk of a car in its early days. Shops in Oak Park, Evanston, and Glen Ellyn make it easy for both city-dwellers and suburbanites to patronize this great organization. 10,000 Villages sells musical instruments, art, décor for the home, jewelry, coffee, and more! They also offer a registry for weddings, birthdays, and any occasion warranting gift buying. Stop by their website tenthousandvillages.com or visit any of their locations for more information.

Quick and easy shopping for Fair Trade and eco-friendly products can be found at these online retailers:

http://www.globalexchangestore.org/

http://www.transfairusa.org/

http://twohandsworldshop.com/

http://www.fairtradefederation.org/

Please comment if you have any suggestions for conscientious consumers!

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