Earth Day 2021: Restore Our Earth

Posted on April 22, 2021 by PJ Valenciano | 0 comments

“The fact is that no species has ever had such wholesale control over everything on earth, living or dead, as we now have. That lays upon us, whether we like it or not, an awesome responsibility. In our hands now lies not only our own future, but that of all other living creatures with whom we share the earth.”

David Attenborough, Life on Earth

 The Earth is our home and the planet where we thrive as human beings alongside nature. However, as we continue in our pursuit towards development and advancement without taking care of the environment our planet suffers the repercussions. Earth Day is a reminder that we are one with the Earth rather than separate entities going about our daily lives. 

We are part of the planet, as such it is our responsibility to be involved. Our involvement is important because ecology is not only about the presence of natural resources but it also includes us of course. We consume more than 80% of the planet’s natural resources, mostly without thinking about the results of these decisions. If we continue acting in ways that aren’t sustainable to the environment, we all lose. 

Why Earth Day? 

“Earthday.org’s mission is to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide. Growing out of the first Earth Day in 1970, EARTHDAY.ORG is the world’s largest recruiter to the environmental movement, working with more than 75,000 partners in over 190 countries to drive positive action for our planet.” - Earth Day 

Since its inception in 1970, Earth Day is a reminder for all to voice out and channel human energy to environmental issues. Every year we celebrate Earth Day on April 22nd with the goal towards bold, creative, and innovative solutions to address the environmental crisis. 

The fight is a continuous effort to bring into light transformational change around the world to take action with commitment. Earthday.Org focuses on the following issues around the world: 

  •  Climate Action
  •  Science and Education
  •  People and Communities
  •  Conservation and Restoration
  •  Plastic and Pollution 

Be Part of Earth Day 2021 

"As the world returns to normal, we can’t go back to business-as-usual.” 

- Lindsay Dunahee, 

The state of our environment is the key to our survival. Join the discussion from April 20-22 in celebration of Earth Day 2021.  Listen to world leaders and jump into the discussion on how we can prevent disasters as a result of climate change and environmental destruction. While we cannot completely reverse the environmental damage we've caused, we can still be part of the healing process. It's easy to brush off environmental issues and leave them to the big players. However, our choices, actions and decisions as individuals, organizations and businesses play an important role.  Your micro-world affects the whole and when individual voices come together, change is underway.

Women’s Peace Collection - Sustainability Practices

Women’s Peace Collection is committed to being a sustainable business and incorporating as many environmentally sound practices as possible.  Last year we made a decision to eliminate virtually all plastic in our operations (with the exception of re-using the plastic that we receive our items in). We scouted out alternative packaging options and discovered some wonderful recycled paper shipping solutions.  While a bit more expensive, we’re thrilled with what we’ve come up with.  Our minimalist packaging now includes recycled and recyclable paper packages (including all paper padded envelopes), as well as reused packing paper.   If you’ve ordered from us you’ve probably noticed our kind of funky looking packages – we hope you appreciate the intent behind them!

In our administrative operations, we recycle all paper and plastic and reuse materials whenever possible.  We are about to introduce a new feature at checkout on our website where we offer our customers the option to pay to plant trees in order to offset their carbon footprint.  Stay tuned!

Women’s Peace Collection is also committed to sourcing sustainable products.  Our clothing, jewelry and accessories are largely made with recycled textiles or organic cotton; and our metal jewelry is sourced from recycled metals or sustainable mining operations. Additionally, our baskets, some of our clothing, and many of our accessories are sourced from renewable plant and animal materials such as pine needles, grasses, bamboo, and alpaca.

We strive to have environmental stewardship at the top of our priority list, always!

Happy Earth Day!

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How Fair Trade Supports Fashion Revolution

Posted on April 20, 2021 by PJ Valenciano | 0 comments

It is easy to be swayed and influenced by the glamorized world of fashion. We are bombarded with advertisements from brands all over the web which influence every decision we make when it comes to buying clothes and accessories without ever asking who made them.  As we seek to learn and become more conscious of how consumption works and its effect on our lives, we can begin shifting the gears towards change. 

What is the Fashion Revolution? 

This year marks the 8th year of the Rana Plaza incident, which sparked the Fashion Revolution Movement. In 2013 a garment factory with over 5,000 workers (mostly women) in Bangladesh collapsed taking the lives of thousands. Prior to its collapse, there were already reports specifying the unsafe conditions in the workplace. The workers did not feel safe in the factory but these concerns were set aside resulting in the catastrophe that put the fashion industry, stripped of its glamour, into the spotlight.

Every April, we celebrate the Fashion Revolution Movement. The main goal of the movement is to mobilize people around the globe to challenge how the existing fashion industry does things-- beginning with the supply chain.

Who made your clothes? Who made your jewelry? Who made your bag? Who made your shoes? There are faces behind every item you purchase. It passes through the hands of artisans and workers. Fashion Revolution calls out brands and businesses in the fashion industry and also appeals to us, as consumers, to be aware of our own purchases and consumption habits. 

Why Fair Trade? 

Fair Trade may not be the sole solution but it’s a start. Through fair trade principles the incident at Rana Plaza can be prevented from happening again. Fair Trade reinforces the ideals on which the Fashion Revolution Movement stands for - where artisans are protected and treated with dignity. 

Workers under the Fair Trade model are paid with fair wages, work in safe conditions and are empowered through capacity building. Most importantly, fair trade businesses and organizations are expected to be transparent and accountable throughout their supply chain. A fair trade enterprise has a genuine concern over the social, economic and environmental well-being of artisans and producers

As a Fair Trade enterprise, we, at Women’s Peace Collection, stand alongside the Fashion Revolution Movement by selling ethical, beautiful, handcrafted items made in global villages and cities by talented artisans. 

We are challenging the norms of the fashion industry by: 

  1. Providing fair wages for our artisan partners
  2. Supporting the ethical treatment of our partners &
  3. Choosing sustainability over profit 

Learn more about our mission & values. 

It’s a long road to break the chain of unethical practices in the fashion industry, however through collective action we can become the very agents of change. 

Want to continue supporting artisans around the globe with your dollar as part of your Fashion Revolution challenge?  Shop our Spring Collection.

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International Women's Day

Posted on March 07, 2021 by PJ Valenciano | 0 comments

“A challenged world is an alert world and from challenge comes change.  So let's all choose to challenge ourselves.  How will you help forge a gender- equal world?  Celebrate women's achievement.  Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality.”   (Internationalwomensday.com)

On March 8 we officially celebrate International’s Women’s Day to commemorate accomplishments by women around the globe. History has shown how women have fought for equality throughout the generations, something which continues to this very day. 

The achievements of women across the globe cannot be ignored.  We hear, read, and witness the struggles of women around the world as well as their conviction to facilitate change. This strong drive makes women convincing advocates to address their struggles and to find the solutions to these problems. 

This year's theme for International Women’s Day is #ChooseToChallenge. We are called to challenge stereotypes and preconceived notions towards women. Dare to stand-up against inequality and use your voice to call-out injustices experienced by women. 

The time is right to #ChooseToChallenge ourselves and be free of the biases ingrained by society. Use this inner conviction to unlearn preconceived notions, and be an agent of change to educate your own community. 

We join IWD in their goal to forge a gender equal world by celebrating women’s achievement and standing against inequality. Here are IWD’s mission: 

As a women-led business, we value the importance of women’s role in our society. Our work as a social enterprise helps women around the world to realize their dreams and create a better life for themselves and their families. 

When women are given the opportunity to thrive, their community thrives along with them. We are responsible for our own actions and thoughts. We can choose the path where we all stand side by side, as a collective, to create a more inclusive community.  Stand-up, raise your hand and show your support to women worldwide. 

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National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month

Posted on January 11, 2021 by PJ Valenciano | 0 comments

We may no longer see the type of “slavery” that’s recorded in history textbooks, but in this modern era, we now face a different kind of “slavery.” A new type that exists both in the light and darkness cast by our society.  

While slavery was officially abolished in the US by the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865, it has adapted and evolved to become human trafficking; wherein human beings are exploited for profit.  

By official definition --- Human Trafficking is “ the recruitment, transport, transfer, harboring or receipt of a person by such means as threat or used of force or other forms coercion, abduction, fraud or deception for the purpose of exploitation. There are core elements in the definition of trafficking which are: action of trafficking, means of trafficking, & purpose of trafficking” (United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime).

Human trafficking also includes sexual explotiation, forced labor, involuntary servitude, forced marriage, and debt bondage.” 

Looking Deeper into Human Trafficking 

Every country in the world is affected by human trafficking, often occurring from “less developed countries to more developed countries, where people are rendered vulnerable to trafficking by virtue of poverty, conflict or other conditions “ (United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime).

Scarier still, exploitation against human beings continues to increase annually, with signs of increasing growth at a mind-boggling rate. 

Women and young children top the majority of people exploited on a daily basis. 

But looking at it through an objective lens --- Human Trafficking is a business that brings immense profit --- at the expense of the suffering of other human beings. 

An estimated 40.3 million people worldwide are continuously being trafficked with sex trafficking as one of the planet’s fastest growing criminal industries. 

Based on UNDOC’s Global Report on Trafficking; sexual exploitation is identified as the most common and documented form of white slavery. Its rate stands at 79%, followed by forced labor at 18%. Other forms of exploitation are rarely, or never, reported.

Spreading Awareness, Together 

While January 11 is declared as National Human Trafficking Awareness day, the whole month is declared as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

This started in 2011 through a Presidential Proclamation by President Barack Obama

If you have been supporting Women’s Peace Collection, you well know that Human Trafficking is one of the issues we feel strongly about. In standing alongside those fighting against any form of exploitation, we adhere to the belief that thorough awareness breeds and leads to action. 

With widespread awareness in Human Trafficking you can, as an individual or as an organization, help in eradicating this horrific problem and rescuing victims situated in critical areas. 

National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month brings to light our collective opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others. Let’s choose to educate ourselves about human trafficking, as well as advocate against any form of injustice towards our fellow human beings. 

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Gifts That Matter This Holiday Season - Why buy Fair Trade?

Posted on December 09, 2020 by PJ Valenciano | 0 comments

We are now in the final month of the year - 2020 has definitely been a roller-coaster ride across the globe!  We’ve seen how the “normal” way of living has been brought to a halt, thus disrupting the flow that we were all once used to.  Many businesses - be they large, medium, and small - have been affected. And of course this extends to communities supported by the income generated by these businesses. 

For this year, celebrating the holiday season is simply going to be vastly different--- in many ways, for many people. However, despite the pandemic, the holidays are definitely not going to be cancelled. It’s a special time of year and we’ll make adjustments to what we “normally” do. 

A definite shift has occurred, really making this year a call for change. We strongly feel that change should be made for the betterment of all: be it for individuals, communities, and the planet!  

The holidays are a time of giving and receiving, We encourage you to make your dollar count by investing in gifts that matter. By this we mean buying from local brands and from small businesses that are making a difference in the lives of others. 

Level it up by making sure you are sharing gifts that are ethically and fairly made!

Here are some reasons why making the decision to buy Fair Trade makes a potential difference. 

 1. Meaningful Purchase 

However you choose to spend your dollar, you are casting a vote as to the sort of difference in the world you want to support. Whether it is a product or a service that you are investing in, you are making a statement. 

Every time you purchase Fair Trade products, you are telling the world that you stand for fairness and equality. Fair Trade principles include the monitoring of fair wages, community building and development, social, economic and development projects such as scholarships and health care to name a few. 

With this in mind, your purchase truly makes an impact on a lot of people. 

 2. Support Dreams 

We work with women around the world to assist them in realizing their dreams for themselves, their family and their community. Our meaningful collections are created by women from over 12 countries all around the globe. 

By buying Fair Trade, you help dreams come true by promoting self-sufficiency and prosperity for the artisans and their families. 

 3.  Kindness & Compassion 

At its essence Fair Trade is grounded in principles of kindness and compassion. Notably we see this in how Fair Trade provides an avenue for artisans, farmers, workers around the globe to have better, honorable, respectable lives. 

Fair Trade is not based on hand-outs, but rather about empowering individuals to have a sustainable and fair alternative to alleviate them from poverty and discrimination. With every purchase of fairly made products, you are acknowledging the worth of their work--- the talent and time they devote to putting forth their best efforts in each and every piece they create. 

4. You care for Mother Earth 

At its very core Fair Trade practice means commitment to care for the world we live in. When you buy Fair Trade, you are supporting organizations that are working to save the planet! 

How is this done? 

Extra care with environmentally-ethical practices goes into the production of the products--- to produce quality products that are also kind to the environment. For example, jewelry pieces are made of recycled materials or baskets are made of sustainable, eco-friendly materials that are not detrimental to the environment. 

5.  A Better World 

In general, buying Fair Trade helps make a better world both for humans and the planet. Now, isn’t that a great reason to give Fair Trade gifts to your loved ones this holiday season? 

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A Story of Hope: Maritza's Workshop

Posted on May 08, 2020 by Susan Fish | 0 comments

I recently had the privilege of visiting an amazing fair trade artisan cooperative in Peru.  Little did I know that the day after I returned Peru would close its borders and our country would shut down due to the coronavirus.  It’s been a long strange trip since I returned, but I wanted to make sure to go back in time and share this incredible story of hope.

On March 6th I arrived in Chimbote, Peru, with a group of 10 women from the United States and one from India.  We were there with Fair Anita, led by Joy Mcbrien, who has been working with a fair trade cooperative there for several years.  The artisan group, Taller de Maritza (Maritza’s Workshop), is a group of kickass women who are either disabled or have disabled children. They make beautiful beaded jewelry, although most of them had little or no experience in this craft prior to joining the group.  Our intention for the week was to get to know the women, hear their stories, learn about their culture, have them teach us and show us their work, witness a successful fair trade cooperative in action, and have fun.

After a 7 hour bus ride from Lima we arrived in Chimbote planning to drop off our bags and walk the 2 blocks to the workshop.  But the women couldn't wait - they surprised us at the Parrish we were staying in with a greeting full of welcome signs, kisses, balloons and an impromptu dance party!  It was the warmest welcome I’ve ever experienced and I instantly knew this was going to be a profound experience.

The week was spent getting to know the women and engaging in a combination of social and work activities.  We played games, helped paint a house, learned about the workshop, interviewed the women, danced and ate great food.  Chimbote is one of the largest, poorest cities in the world. Eighty percent of the citizens live in extreme poverty, and 70% of the women have experienced domestic violence.

The artisan workshop is located in Maritza’s home and the women live nearby so can walk to work.  They all have extreme hardships in their lives, such as taking care of a child with Cerebral Palsy, being wheelchair bound, etc.  But these were honestly the warmest, most loving people I have ever met.  They were incredibly grateful that we had traveled all the way there to meet them, and were gracious and funny - belly laughs were had by all.  In the photo below is Joy with Anita, Fair Anita's namesake, and a fire cracker of a woman who pretty much takes care of the whole community!

One of the most moving experiences of the week, and of my life, happened the day we all went on an outing to a park.  It was International Women’s Day, and we celebrated by going to a nearby place with swimming pools, a small zoo, and large picnic areas.  Most of the women had never been there before, nor had been to anything remotely like it.  A young woman named MariCarmen, who is unable to walk and has spent her life in a wheelchair, declared that she was going swimming after lunch.  Not only had she never been in a pool, she had never even taken a bath!  We all looked at each other, surprised, and said, “ok, we’ll figure this out.”  It took several of us to lift her out of the wheelchair and into the pool, and I really expected her to be pretty freaked out by the experience.  Nope…..we spent about an hour and a half in the pool with her, holding her up, while she laughed and splashed and had what she described as the best day of her life.  I can’t even begin to explain what that experience felt like, but trust me, I will remember it forever.

 

One day the women wanted to teach us how to make a bracelet, so we had a blast learning how to make a tassel (harder than it looks!), stamping letters onto brass charms (VERY challenging), and finally, wearing our finished products.  It was just wonderful to witness their pride in teaching us.  

The day we interviewed the women was another highlight of the trip.  We wanted to hear their stories, give them a chance to tell them, and learn how being in the fair trade cooperative has changed their lives.  I had the privilege of interviewing a woman named Maria, an experience that ended up being full of tears and love. 

Maria is 44 years old and is married with two children, a six year old son and a 17 year old daughter.  Maria’s daughter, Marjhory, is severely disabled, confined to her bed, and her health problems are very costly.  Until Maria started working with Maritza’s workshop she was having great difficulty paying for Marjhory’s medications, diapers, milk and other expenses.  When she heard about Fair Anita and Taller de Maritza she thought she wouldn’t be able to work there because she didn’t know anything about making jewelry.  Maritza encouraged her to come and learn, and now she is one of the expert jewelry makers in the group, specializing in the wire work which takes a lot of strength and skill.

Being a member of this group has changed Maria’s life in so many ways.  She lives right next to the workshop so is able to leave to check on Marjhory whenever she needs to.  With the money she has earned she has been able to buy a refrigerator to keep Marjhory's milk cold, put a new roof on her home, build a handicapped accessible bathroom and buy diapers in bulk.  She refers to the other women in the group as her angels and is incredibly grateful for the community and family she is now part of.  She wants to relay this message to other women: “hope never dies, faith does exist, with time you can do anything, and women have the same rights to work as men.”

 

The last night we had a big farewell party where we helped the women make a traditional Peruvian dinner, and the evening ended with lots of dancing.  Another heartfelt moment was when a couple members of our group started dancing with women in their wheelchairs around the room!  The joy on the women's faces was something I'll never forget.

Saying goodbye the next day was tough.  There were lots of tears and hugs and "I love you’s."  Several of the artisans said it was the best week of their lives and I know that was true for many of us as well.  I left there feeling so loved, welcomed and part of a new community.  My commitment to fair trade and how it truly, truly changes lives was strengthened.  These powerful, strong, amazing women are the real changemakers and I too felt myself change just being in their presence.

Maritza's Workshop is a story of hope and a perfect model of how fair trade changes lives.  I wish that was the end of the story, but Covid-19 has changed everything.  Peru has been in full lockdown since March 16th, and there are curfews which only allow people to leave their homes to go to the grocery store or pharmacy.  No taking walks just to get fresh air, and men and women are only allowed to shop on alternate days.  Most of the families in Chimbote only have enough money to survive 3 days without income, so one can imagine the impact the pandemic is having on the community.  There is little, if any, government support, so families are without food and medication.  This is a dire situation.  Money has been raised to help them and is being distributed throughout the community, and Fair Anita continues to pay them up front for future work, but additional funds are desperately needed.  My heart is with the women and their families during this challenging time, hence my decision to donate 20% of all Women's Peace Collection sales in honor of World Fair Trade Day.  Thank you for your support - your purchases really do change lives!

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Visiting Guatemala's Bamboo Cooperative

Posted on March 05, 2020 by Jeremy Mallison | 0 comments

Over the past few years I’ve watched my mom work tirelessly to offer more ethical and sustainable jewelry, accessories and gifts to people who want to make a difference in the world. I’ve watched her passionately educate countless customers on the merits of Fair Trade and the impact it has on the marginalized women who make the products. As her son, I’ve helped out over the years when she’s needed some extra hands, but I could never quite understand where she finds the inspiration and motivation to pour so much time into Women’s Peace Collection. This past February, I decided it was time to find out for myself; so I made a trip to Guatemala to meet with some of our artisan partners in the villages around Lake Atitlan. It didn’t take long for me to see what all the fuss was about.

One of our partner cooperatives around the lake is Asociación Maya. Tucked away in the back of a small alley in the small town of Sololá I found around 20 indigenous Mayan women preparing yarn to make scarves out of bamboo. Twenty women work full time in the building I visited dyeing and preparing the yarn, and another 150 women work out of their homes weaving the yarn into gorgeous scarves. When I first heard of bamboo scarves, I assumed they’d be really tough and fibrous like the plant itself. On the contrary, these are some of the most luxuriously soft scarves I’ve ever felt! The women buy the yarn in large white rolls, and then use a hand-cranked machine to unravel it.

 

Natural dyes are then prepared in buckets of hot water and sections of yarn are left to soak in them for a time. Depending on the desired color pattern of the scarf, sections of the same yarn could be died several different colors.

 

After the dying process is complete, the yarn is hung out to dry on clotheslines in the sun, and the resulting mosaic of sun-lit colors and textures creates a feast for the eyes.

 

After the yarn is thoroughly dry, a group of women smooth it out into an even untangled thread and organize it in neat bunches for the weavers to use.

 

 

The weavers then use the yarn on traditional back-strap looms in their homes to create incredible works of art. When we then buy these wearable works of art, we support the 170 women involved in the cooperative and their aspirations for a brighter future. And supporting these women is very different from supporting an individually-owned business. They are a producer cooperative, which implies that they have collective ownership of the business. As a community of owners, they’re able to ensure they receive fair compensation for their work and pool resources in order to maximize earnings. With these earnings, they’re then able to provide for their families and invest in their communities as a group. It’s a model that everyone can feel good about.

            As I was taking photos of the women and their craft, everyone was all smiles and giggles, especially because of my apparent awkwardness as a photographer. I then handed them my phone and they started taking photos of me! We had so much fun laughing about the photos and the humor of the whole situation that I found myself not wanting to leave. The air was saturated with joy. I left feeling a much deeper connection to them than I ever could have anticipated. There’s something very touching about people from different cultures working together towards a brighter future.

After this visit, I began to feel how enriching it is to be able help my mom run a business that directly benefits the women I connected with. I started to see why she’s so dedicated to her work, especially when I considered that she is helping women prosper all over the world! And while the impact of Fair Trade is greatest at the level of the producer, the consumer also gets the gift of a handmade work of art that they can feel good about. In a world of standardized mass production, there’s great fulfillment in owning something that connects us with the individual hands that spent hours or days carefully crafting it. It’s rare to be a part of something that benefits everyone involved.

As for the women of Asociación Maya, we hope to be part of their enriching journey as it unfolds far into the future. And if you feel so inspired, their scarves are available in our online store.

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