Why fair trade toys really do make a difference

EarthKid store

Do you sometimes see little knick-knack toys selling for next to nothing and think, wow, how can that possibly be so cheap? The sad fact is that the real cost is not reflected in the price tag. Someone somewhere in the world is probably sacrificing their health, their dignity, or the education of their children, in order to give your kid a few moments entertainment.

A whole load of corners need to be cut in order to turn a profit on something that is sold really cheaply.  Workers get exploited and forced to labour for wages that just aren’t enough to live off, and environmental standards are thrown out the window.

This is where fair trade comes into play. Fair trade is about creating a new way of doing business that puts people and their local environment before profits.

So does Fair trade actually make a difference to people’s lives?

At EarthKid we believe the answer to that question is a resounding and most definite YES.

And because of this belief we ONLY work with suppliers that treat their workers with dignity and respect – paying them a fair wage, training them with valuable craftsmanship skills, and most definitely without any child labour.

Fair trade does not instantly solve the world’s problems, but it does aim to address some of them in ways that conventional trade doesn’t.

Lanka Kade have puzzled it out

Are you familiar with our beautiful range of sustainable rubberwood jigsaw puzzles? Our best sellers include a huge range of brightly coloured, chunky puzzles that make great room decorations as well as educational toys.  And each and every one of them is hand crafted by family businesses in Sri Lanka.

Lanka Kade wooden crocodile jigsaw

Lanka Kade wooden crocodile jigsaw

Leelawathi

Leelawathi

They have a long term work commitment with one of our suppliers, Lanka Kade – a small UK based company that is fully committed to the principals of fair trade. The businesses are given continual employment throughout the year and as there aren’t any middlemen to pay, the producers receive a full and fair price for their work.

“The workplace is like a family rather than a hierarchy, there’s no nastiness, I like the whole concept,” says Leelawathi, one of the ladies responsible for sealing the jigsaws.

Fair trade doesn’t just benefit the direct employees, it very often benefits the wider community too.

Rujith, another Lanka Kade producer has spoken about the positive impact his regular work made to his whole community, “I put a lot money into the village to help the poorer community and charity services. I pay for two student scholarships to schools away from home, as it was something I couldn’t do. [Lanka Kade] have helped change my life and helped my village.”

A Lanka Kade worker drying the freshly cut and primed wooden jigsaw pieces. Then comes the challenge of piecing together hundreds of individual jigsaws!

A Lanka Kade worker drying the freshly cut and primed wooden jigsaw pieces. Then comes the challenge of piecing together hundreds of individual jigsaws!

Don’t poo-poo our paper

Also in Sri Lanka, elephants and humans often compete over scarce land resources causing casualties on both sides. Another of our suppliers has created a rather unique, sustainable industry to tackle this issue. Local villagers are manufacturing recycled paper from office waste and elephant dung!

Not only do the villagers have regular, sustainable income, but a portion of the profits go to the Millennium Elephant Foundation that provides sanctuary, medical services and care for working elephants.

“By providing eco-friendly alternative work to farming that links the wild elephants to the economy in these areas we hope to change the attitudes and perceptions towards protecting wildlife in the long run.”

It’s not unusual that fair trade purchases benefit our environment.  Paying workers a decent wage allows them to divert their energy away from practices that can harm the local environment and focus on building it instead.

Elephant dung paper making process

A simple idea

EarthKid wholeheartedly believes in supporting fair trade. If a supplier can’t prove their workers are paid a fair wage and treated with respect, then we don’t buy from them.

For every beautiful purchase you make from places like EarthKid, there’s an equally beautiful change happening somewhere in the world. When your kid plays with their unique fair trade toy, you feel good knowing it was made with respect for people and the planet. You can’t really go wrong!

Drop into the store or visit EarthKid.com.au to browse our range of fair trade and sustainable products that won’t cost the earth.

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