Exploring the heart of Serenity Balancing Blue Tansy oil: Fair trade and humanity
It’s easy to do things faster and with less conscious thinking in today’s world. I used to be one of the worst offenders. Amazon was just a click away, and I have to admit, there are times when I still use them, for prompt service. That said, I recognize when I am doing it, that I am taking the lazier route our convenience-culture encourages. In a society that works faster all of the time, a part of me knows that we are losing some of the heart and personal interaction when we shop like this.
In the olden days, when my Mother and Grandmother shopped, we used to have bags that we would carry from shop to shop. In Ayr, the town in Scotland where my mom came from, my Gran and I would go to the butcher to buy meat, to the fishmonger to buy fish, to a greengrocer to buy produce, and into the newsagents to buy a newspaper. My Gran knew each shopkeeper, and they knew her. They knew when one of her children was sick, or when we were visiting from California. The shopkeepers had that human touch: saving the best piece of fish for her, for example, knowing that she had visitors. It is that human touch that is missing in many of our interactions now. This is one reason why I love Fair Trade so much because we build relationships and learn about how ingredient-harvesting affects real people. So how does Fair Trade work?
What Does Fair Trade Actually Mean?
Fair Trade is a global movement made up of product and ingredient producers, ethical companies, consumers, advocates, and organizations that practice putting people and the planet first. As opposed to just handing over donations, like you might do to help a struggling business, these organizations actually focus on empowering people to support themselves. Fair Trade organizations are regulated, and they put the small farmers and workers first by guaranteeing a fair amount of money for fair work and produce.
In addition to making products, such as shea butter, and paying a decent wage to the workers, fair trade organizations also provide a means for workers to provide health care, retirement funds, and other benefits like education, for the workers’ families. Having a safe place to work that provides a decent salary empowers women, and in many cases, helps with sustainability for the environment, are all things that a fair trade agreement can offer to their workers.
In many cases, a fair trade group can help independent artists or creators of handmade goods, which would normally not have a market for their products, band together and create a coop. These coops may be created from one or more villages, for example, and help people like widows, who are the sole providers of income for their families.
How does fair trade work on a personal level?
A good example of fair trade organizations are the two wonderful groups that we work with, in Senegal and Kenya.
They provide the 100% virgin Baobab and Moringa oils that we use in our Serenity Balancing Blue Tansy facial oil. One thing that we love about these groups is that they are proud to sustain the traditional methods of hand-harvesting and cold processing in the oils that they make, without heat or chemicals, which allows for us to fully utilize the natural benefits of the organic oils in our product. The workers, who are about 90% women (most with children) come from local villages. They have a safe place to work, and their children have a school to attend. Even girls, who ordinarily might have to stay home and take care of younger children, have the opportunity to get an education.
A girl attending school learns to write her name. It may seem like a simple thing, but it is quite unusual in the area. Once a person can write their name, they have the freedom to earn money on their own by creating handcrafted items and entering into small microloans. To you and me, a microloan sounds like a nice dinner out for two! It may be as little as $200, but it can allow them to purchase raw ingredients, and to enter into a trade agreement, all because they can sign their name.
How does fair trade work to help this? A girl who is educated stands a greater chance of bucking with traditions of getting married young or being sexually compromised. She stands a greater chance of staying safe from sexually transmitted disease, and in getting regular vaccines. Once she has learned the value of education, she has a very high degree of seeing the value in education and doing the same for her children.
One educated girl can literally change the direction of a village.
What Does Fair Trade Mean for the Environment?
Modern methods of farming or harvesting often include machinery or invasive methods in order to extract the fruit or nuts to harvest. However, when workers use traditional methods, these involve handpicking, choosing only the ripe fruits or best nuts, and also helping protect the natural habitat. Most Fair Trade groups are also centered around sustainability too. The combination of all of these things helps bring people out of poverty and also preserve their village traditions and lifestyle.
For example, the Matsangoni people of Kenya are driving environmentally sound production methods for Moringa oil, instead of relying on the labor-intensive maize industry. Together with local farmers, they have planted over 60,000 trees that will bring not only additional income from seed sales but food security especially for head-of-household women and their families. At left, we’re honored to share a picture of one of the Matsangoni women hand-harvesting Moringa pods. Changing from a maize-driven product base to Moringa oil products is better for the environment, and much safer than the ever-changing tourism business, plus tree planting sustains the business for years to come. This is one of the ways how fair trade works to provide a win-win for the environment.
In the co-op in Senegal, Baobab oil producers use growers that operate through a social responsibility certified group with traceable harvesting programs. Our supplier’s plant, located in Senegal, is Social Responsibility Certified by the Swiss BioFoundation and Institute for Marketecology (IMO). Total traceability is maintained from harvest to finished bulk products, and of the 2,000-2,500 employees, women represent 70% of the production staff and 90% of the farmers. Respect for the people, their lives, and their land is summed up in the company’s motto: “Because local is social.”
The Heart of Who We Are
When Ayr Skin Care set out to create products using gentle ingredients for skin andorganic oils wherever possible, our goal was not to make a ton of money. Our goal was to be the change we wanted to see in the world. We wanted to shed light on the beauty industry, and to show that there are other ways to do business.
Working with Fair Trade groups reminds us that all people have stories, families, and a future. We have the choice to decide to spend more money buying ingredients that can help people, in that old-fashioned way of respect and thoughtfulness that I remember from shopping as a child.
Buying any of our skin care products supports Fair Trade, as we use ingredients from at least one fair trade group in over 90% of all of our products. Serenity Balancing Blue Tansy uses two groups, and Tranquility Hand Cream uses three! Also, our Virgin Marula Oil is 100% organic and is another of our beloved (and versatile!) fair trade oils.
If we can find a way to not only purchase these wonderful products, but also shine awareness and spread the word about how fair trade works around the world, it is always a win for the environment, for sustainability, for organic products, and most importantly, for the people.
Bye for now!
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