I believe in Sustainable Style. In fact, I'd call myself a Sustainable Stylist, if the term wasn't already trademarked. My shopping habits very closely mirror my values... and my values are built right into the tagline of my business: Eco-Global-Community Conscious Style. Eco - I love our planet, and I want to see it flourish for a long long time. We are a world filled-to-the-brim with so much STUFF, it's hard for me to imagine where it might all end up. Which is why I'm crazy about the three R's - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (oh, and C - compost!).
Global - I often find it sad how we've drawn these arbitrary state/country "lines in the sand", and then forget all about what happens to the people and places on the other side of that line. We forget about our neighbors. Our brothers. Our sisters. But when you look to earth from outer space, boundaries don't exist, and you realize we are all one. We must care for each other's well being, despite those lines in the sand.
Community - I believe in community. It's just that simple. My weakness is your strength. And then my strength is your weakness. If I can help make you stronger, then you will in turn help your neighbor who is counting on your strength to lift them up. And so on and so on. Around and around.
Over the years I've realized that when I shop in a way that mirrors and supports my values, I feel... proud. Happy. Congruent from the inside, out. It reminds me of my favorite quote from the Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, "We have to eat happy eggs from happy chickens." In other words, if we consume happy eggs from happy chickens, then we too will feel happy. Conversely, if we consume angry eggs from angry chickens, we will internalize and express that anger. For me, I feel the same way about purchasing clothing and accessories.
I thrift, NOT just because I love the thrill of a good hunt, or because spending mere dollars on an outfit makes me giddy with delight. I thrift because I like keeping stuff out of the waste-stream. Because let's face it... once a shirt/skirt/pair-of-pants leaves the store (or warehouse), it's just a quick flux in trend or weight gain/loss and that piece is relegated to the discard pile. Most stuff that we own nowadays is made in substandard factories way across the world (out of sight-out of mind), and is produced by men, women and children that are not earning a livable wage. BUT, every time I buy or acquire something used, I'm keeping that one THING in circulation a little bit longer, thus keeping it out of the landfill, and driving down the demand... even if just a teensy-tinsy bit.
And that makes me feel good.
You know what else makes me feel good...
HANDMADE / FAIR TRADE
So what is Fair Trade anyway?
Fair trade means that my purchase is supporting a HUMAN BEING, and that human being is receiving a FAIR WAGE. It means men, women and children are NOT being exploited. They are working in safe conditions, and their lives are not on the line for somebody else's bottom line. Fair trade supports women's development - meaning women will be given the same opportunities as men to provide for their needs!!
And THAT'S something I can get behind!
It's becoming easier and easier to find affordable accessories - earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and scarves - that are fair trade.
Just last week I received the most gorgeous pair of HANDMADE, FAIR TRADE earrings from a company called Kurandza. Kurandza is a new company that was founded by a Peace Corps volunteer following her service in Mozambique, with a mission to empower and educate women, the majority of whom are HIV positive, through entrepreneurship and creative design. The women not only receive FAIR WAGES for the jewels they create, but profits from the sales go back to the women in the form of scholarships, trainings, facility development and social programs.
This is Sustainable Style at its finest, people.
And as a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer myself, I truly value the cross-cultural exchange that happens when you buy a product from abroad.
When I'm wearing earrings that are handmade by women in Mozambique, and I hear Mozambique mentioned in the news, you better believe I'm gonna pay attention. Or when somebody says to me, "Hey Stasia, I LOOOOVE your earrings!", I'll say right back to them, "Thank you - they were handcrafted in Mozambique!". And just like that, the world becomes a little bit smaller.
These earrings are whimsical, fun, and a pure delight to wear. And quite frankly, I want at least three more pairs! :)
Tis the season folks... TODAY is the last day to order in time for the holiday! Plus, they are offering 30% off all purchases TODAY ONLY (use code "flashsale" at checkout)!! Remember, every purchase you make will ensure a woman with HIV has the resources she needs to purchase her medication and support her family. You feel good. She feels good. The community feels good. The world feels good. The earth feels good.
So go on, forward this post to your husband/mother/wife/brother/sister/bestie with a little nudge-nudge, perhaps you'll find a pair of these gorgeous earrings in your stocking!
As always, I'd love to hear from you! What values dictate your shopping habits? What does Sustainable Style mean to you? How do you incorporate sustainability into your life? Do you eat happy eggs from happy chickens? Why? Leave a comment below to join the conversation!
Disclosure - I was sent these earrings by Kurandza as a gift, but I can assure you that I would not write about them if 1 - I did not LOVE the product and 2 - I did not 100% support their mission. I will NOT be receiving any royalties from your purchases.