Category Archives: Ohio Fair Trade BLOG

Spring Cleaning

Open windows, fresh air and sunshine bring on a desire to get rid of the winter’s dust. Spring cleaning can be a ritual that prepares houses for the newness of summer. Spring and open windows brings in a freshness. In keeping with that freshness, most people ae now leaving behind the harsh chemicals of most cleaning products. Some are returning to old-fashioned solutions such as vinegar and water. But there are more choices in eco-friendly cleaners, some of which are fair traded. We invite you to clean with a conscience: both in terms of the environment and the producers of the products.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Bronner’s socially and environmentally responsible products. You will find Sal Suds Liquid cleaner, a concentrated hard surface, all-purpose cleaner which is completely biodegradable, and Castile Liquid Soap. Also, a list of body products are available. The company sees itself as an activist promoting fair trade, promoting organic integrity and protecting animal rights.
  2. Cleaning Products that Work by Sodasan. These are organic products made from fruits, vegetables and plants. Products include laundry, dishes, household cleaning and hand soaps.
  3. Try some old-fashioned cleaning tips:
    1. Baking soda to remove odors.
    2. Vinegar and water for windows and mirrors.
    3. Baking soda and vinegar mix to clean clogged drains.
    4. Douse fresh stains in clothing with salt and then wash.
    5. Tomato ketchup for brass.

As long as we are talking about freshness and a special clean, let us remind you of the many fair traded body products. Shampoos and wonderfully scented soaps are available in many of our fair trade shops in the area: Fair Trade on Main in Hudson, Ten-Thousand Villages and Revive in Cleveland Heights, and even Whole Foods.

Locally, you can find Dr. Bronner’s personal care products at Heinen’s, GNC, Caito’s in Solon, Healthy Living in Willoughby, Mustard Seed Markets, Nature’s Bin West in Cleveland, and Target.

Submitted by Karen Leith

Our Global Mothers

Mother’s Day is a special time for many of us. For me, it’s a time to remember my “best friend” and place a daffodil on her grave. Daffodils weren’t Mom’s favorite flower, but I have plenty of them in my front yard to pick, and I don’t think that she would mind.

Mom passed away seven years ago when I was doing my “free market, capitalistic thing.” She never had an opportunity to see me venture into the word of fair trade and hear stories of our visits to our artisan partners in El Salvador.

My wife and I began visiting El Salvador six years ago, and one of the immediate impressions was the devotion and dedication of the women to their families – both sons and daughters. By working to earn extra income making crafts at a fair wage, they allow their children to stay in school longer without the need to enter the “workforce.”

Fair Trade gives them this opportunity.  These women want a better life for their children, and in a small way, we are helping them. Our business, Revy Fair Trade, is one of hundreds of fair trade wholesalers who are working to break the cycle of poverty which has plagued the Global South for years.

Mother’s Day may be an American holiday, but it is also a time to think of these women and thank them. Their work, and dedication are something that we can all look up to. Happy Mother’s Day to everyone – here and in the Global South.


By:  Ron Ober – Revy Fair Trade Products

Kiss Exploitation Goodbye!

Over 190 million roses will be bought for Valentine’s Day this year along with chocolate and jewelry.  I had never really given much thought about where the flowers we buy at the store are grown.  It turns out that about 80% of cut flowers sold in the United States come from overseas.  (  They are grown mostly in Central American, Northern South America, and Africa where the climates are conducive to year round growing.  Non fair trade flowers are laden with pesticides and other chemicals to keep them looking fresh for the stores.  At any time, over 120 chemicals are used in the flower growing industry, some of which are carcinogenic.

Flower producers employ mostly women often paying them only $1 per day.  In addition to chemical exposure, they are exposed to other dangerous working conditions, long working hours, inability to organize for fair wages, and in some cases sexual harassment.   While many are happy to have a job, they are still living on the margins of society.

It is common practice to think about fair trade in the context of coffee and chocolate as well as jewelry.  These items are getting easier to find, especially here in NE Ohio. We also need to consider flowers when we think of fair trade products.

Certified fair trade flower producers must provide safe working conditions, limit the types of chemicals they use, pay a living wage, and allow for workers to unionize for their own protection and well-being.    The advantage to purchasing fair trade flowers is a guarantee that a woman is being paid a living wage, receiving access to health care, there is no child labor and the environment is not being affected.  You can also guarantee that you will not have to worry about hazardous chemicals when you give them to your sweetheart.  Plus, you get higher quality flowers.  Worth every penny.

Our website has links to two online sites that sell certified fair trade flowers to individuals.    Fair Trade America and Fair Trade USA provide a list of businesses that sell flowers wholesale.  Print out the lists and share it with your local florist.  Let them know that when they buy and sell fair trade flowers they are making a difference in the lives of women.  And that you will be more inclined to buy flowers from them rather than the supermarket next time.

Check out these sites to learn more about certified fair trade flowers:

Warm Up Your Winter with Fair Trade

The holiday season invites us to be our best self.  It celebrates the virtues of generosity, peace and charity.  The New Year offers us an opportunity to re-assess our lives, identifying ways that we can better live our ideals.  One way we manifest our ideals and values is through how we shop.

Every purchase that we make promotes a value.  All too often, our consumption reflects indifference to the way those who produce our goods are treated.  In light of the deplorable wages, inhumane working conditions, human rights violations and lack of opportunity for personal advancement that exists at the bottom of our supply chain, we must ask ourselves whether we honestly subscribe to the universal challenge to “treat others the way we would want to be treated.”  Can any of us honestly say we would be comfortable with the thought of ourselves, or someone we care about, working 7 days a week and 12 to 16 hours a day, just to survive?

In the upcoming months we, at the “Ohio fair trade network,” would like to offer practical suggestions relating to how consumers can use their purchasing voice to create a demand for goods produced in a way that respects workers.  Helen Keller challenges each of us to recognize “I cannot do everything; but still I can do something.”  Buying fair trade is something we can do to show we care about our marginalized brothers and sisters.  We also invite all of you to share these ideas with your friends and families, remembering another wise saying, “when we dream alone it is only a dream; when we dream together it is the beginning of a new reality.”

 DSC_0001January Challenge:

The holidays are about togetherness and community.  Who doesn’t love sitting in a coffee shop or in front of a fireplace sharing her or his favorite hot beverage with a group of loved ones?  This simple celebration warms our spirit during this cold season reminding us that we are not alone, that we are valued and that we are part of a community.  The truth is we are part of a larger “earth community.”  A simple choice to buy fair trade coffee, tea or hot chocolate can celebrate the fact that our connectedness transcends our inner circle of friends and testify to a global solidarity.

Buying fair trade beverages is an easy and delicious way to show that you care about our brothers and sisters in the developing world and that you care how workers are treated.  We invite you, this January, to begin (or continue) a habit by making your next coffee, tea or hot chocolate purchase fair trade.

It’s also worth noting that fair trade coffees and teas are priced competitively with other high quality brands.  Check the ‘Ohio Fair Trade Network’s’ facebook page this month for weekly links detailing the condition of the workers that produce our coffees, teas, etc. as well as information on fair trade options.  If you would like to go further with your commitment to fair trade during the winter you might also look into fair trade coats and sweaters as well as fair trade sugar for your drink.

Tune in next month to explore ways that we can kiss exploitation goodbye during the Valentine’s season by purchasing fair trade flowers, chocolates, and/or jewelry for someone you care about.

David Laguardia, Walsh Jesuit High School Teacher, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio


Uganda Artisans Make Ohio Fair Trade Expo Special

Attendees at the Ohio Fair Trade Expo this year are going to be in for a treat.  The first 150 registrants at the Expo and each of the Girl Scouts participating in the Fair Trade Education program will receive a handmade bag produced by One Mango Tree artisans in Uganda.

To register for the Ohio Fair Trade Expo click here!

To learn more and register for the Girl Scout fair trade education program click here!

To learn more about One Mango Tree visit:

Buy Fair Trade – Spread the Word!

Are you committed to supporting a sustainable economy by buying fair trade products?
Do you purchase a Fair Trade Certified cup of coffee or tea each day?
Do you wish more people knew about fair trade?

The fair trade movement and growth of the fair trade market is growing each and every day in the state of Ohio, but it could grow more AND you could be part of it.  The Ohio Fair Trade Network has developed a simple way for you to share the news of your fair trade purchase with people across Ohio, the U.S., and the world!

Each time you purchase a fair trade product take just ten seconds and fill out a super-easy online form at our website found at:

Once you fill out this form we will TWEET (that means share on Twitter) the news of your fair trade purchase with more than 1,000 people following Ohio Fair Trade Network on Twitter.  It will give people throughout Ohio, our country, and our global community the opportunity to learn how important fair trade is to Ohioans!

So, the next time you make a fair trade purchase, make sure to complete the form at: – it will only take 10 seconds but will have ripple effects for farmers and artisans for years to come!