World Fair Trade Day ’10

April 29, 2010


World Fair Trade Day ’10 (which is actually two weeks long here in North America) is upon us.

Each year, WFTD gets better and better and this one is no exception. We have more events and more awareness over more days. Individuals and organizations are showing how they use Fair Trade products at home by submitting photos (deadline: May 15) to the Wall of the fairtrademyhome Facebook page.

Hundreds of events around North America, expecting tens of thousands of participants from May 1-15, will offer people ideas and products to use to enter the contests. Join a celebration near you, or post your own, at the Events Calendar.

Notre Dame #1 undergrad

April 20, 2010

This spring I got to teach a Sustainability course at the graduate business school at University of Notre Dame. They were a phenomenal group of students; it will be exciting to see what they do upon graduation this summer to make the world a better place. On my last day there, the b-school got the news that they received the #1 ranking this year for their undergrad program. I happened to have the first appointment of the day with the Dean of the b-school, Dr. Carolyn Woo, and got to give the first congratulations to her and her staff. What an exciting morning!

Dean Woo started her Dean-ship (is that a word?) at ND the year I started my MBA training there. The ranking for the undergraduate and graduate business school programs have steadily increased under her strong, ethical, quiet leadership. She is a phenomenal person. Congratulations to all the faculty and staff at Notre Dame’s b-school. Your hard work and persistence to bring ethically-focused business education to the marketplace has paid off. Well done!

Daily Grommet feature this Friday

April 12, 2010

Join us online at the Daily Grommet this Friday to share your first-hand experience with our sports balls. Should be a fun virtual day together.

The folks at Daily Grommet believe every purchase is an act of citizenship. It amplifies something in the world, good, bad or indifferent. They are creating a place for people who want their purchases to have meaning – to support what matters most to them: whether it’s technical innovation, green or social enterprises, the creation of jobs, domestic manufacturing, or the preservation of craft.

See you Friday!

World Fair Trade Day(s)

April 9, 2010

I think North Americans are a bit jealous of the UK’s full-on Fair Trade Fortnight, so we’ve expanded this year to 15 days of events around the continent.

This year’s theme is “Fair Trade My Home” featuring a smattering of items available for your home, including Fair Trade Certified soccer balls.

World Fair Trade Day is part of the movement to improve the lives of farmers, artisans, and producers in the developing world. This May 1-15, please join us in taking a moment to think about the people who grow our food and produce our products.

It is an opportunity for neighbors, colleagues, classmates, and friends to commit to integrating Fair Trade throughout their lives. From soaps to clothes, rice to soccer balls, Fair Trade products exist for every room in your home.

Find a Fair Trade event happening near you!

Sweatshop workers speak out

April 7, 2010

Starting on April 16th and going through May 5th ILRF will work in conjunction with SweatFree Communities (SFC) on the “Sweatshop Workers Speak Out” speaking tour. Traveling through nine states including Maine, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland and the District of Columbia, the tour will focus on spreading awareness for labor rights in the supply chains used by cities and states for things like police uniforms and soccer balls.  This speaking tour will also support the ongoing sweatfree campaigns in many of the cities visited.

To see if the “Sweatshop Workers Speak Out” speaking tour is coming to your community, go to the ILRF website for more information.

This year’s speaking tour will feature the first hand accounts of labor violations from two speakers. Kalpona Akter, a former child factory worker, from the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity (BCWS) will speak about her work supporting working women, the rights of children, and the security of working families and communities in Bangladesh. Zehra Bano, the General Secretary of the Home-Based Women Workers Federation of Pakistan, will share her intimate knowledge of the plight of soccer ball workers especially related to home-based and stitching center workers.

There will also be a broader focus on public procurement which is the purchasing of goods by a government to be used in the public sector. This can include everything from fire fighter uniforms to school lunches. Governments in the US, whether it is a local, state or federal branch, can be some of the largest purchasers of manufactured goods. They need to buy uniforms and equipment for their offices, employees and schools. These purchases are usually very large and therefore the purchases are an opportunity to encourage the use of strong labor standards as a prerequisite for any business that wants to sell products to the government.

The US has a Department of Labor that regulates domestic labor laws; these include rules for minimum wages, freedom of association, health and safety standards and rules against child labor. When purchasing large orders of manufactured goods, made outside the US for domestic public use, government purchasers should be buying products from suppliers and manufacturers who adhere to similar rules. By joining an active sweatfree movement, governments can ensure that their purchases are made from factories that pay a living wage and have a safe working environment.
ILRF has participated in speaking tours in the past focusing on the supply chain of Walmart in Costa Rica, Cambodia, China, Colombia, Swaziland, and South Africa. ILRF and SFC aim to raise awareness and participation in the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium, a nation wide organization for governments to share knowledge of sweatfree action plans and help each member make sweatfree purchases more effectively and less expensively than any single member could on their own. The larger the purchase order, the cheaper it will be for governments to take action and buy from sweatfree factories, by bringing buyers together that need to purchase the same product, the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium helps to end support for sweatshops and labor violations in government contracts.

Currently  one of ILRF’s key campaigns is focused on making Washington, DC a sweatfree city.  They are calling on DC Mayor Adrian Fenty, and locally elected officials, to join the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium and pass a strong sweatshop free purchasing policy to end tax dollar support for sweatshops ( The DC government purchases millions of dollars of apparel for city employees each year. To ensure that no apparel purchased for DC city officials and employees was made in sweatshops they are urgently asking the DC city council to amend the proposed procurement legislation to include a sweatfree policy and join the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium.

Oprah likes us

April 4, 2010

…or at least her Style Editors at O Magazine do. We made their popular “O List”.

Grab the April issue from your local news stand for a great collection of green gifts, including our popular “Dots” soccer ball for kids (that’s the same one Parents Magazine featured recently as well). Lots of great products featured, as well as a nifty guide to understanding eco-labels.

My favorite item? The “green sleeves” laptop protector by Loopt Works. A neoprene sleeve up-cycled from scraps at a wetsuit factory. Very cool.

Media Week summary

April 3, 2010

Ah Spring Break. Our fruit trees are blooming, vegetable gardens are going bonkers, and the summer intern stops by for a week-long visit. We turned over control of our social media accounts (Twitter and Facebook) and let them run free. Here’s a summary of their activity from this past week, newly dubbed Media Week. Follow the links to explore the recent press Fair Trade Sports has received:

Monday: Forbes

Tuesday: BusinessWeek

Wednesday: Puget Sound Business Journal


Friday: University of Notre Dame

Saturday: Baylor University

And for everyone who asked: yes, I *do* own only one sports jacket.   :)

Children changing the world

March 28, 2010

From fighting child labor to teaching their parents how to read/write, these children are truly Being The Change.

This case study from India about Kiran Bir Sethi’s work is inspiring.

The new conscious consumer

March 23, 2010

My colleagues and Marketing students will tell you I’m not  a big fan of the word “consumer”, preferring the word “citizen” instead, for the sense of responsibility it implies. We are each much more than just the sum of what we consume.

But if we have to use the word, then pairing it with “conscious” is certainly a step in the right direction. Which is what the folks at the Fair Trade Resource Network have done with their new booklet on expanding economic justice through Fair Trade.

Personally, I think the cute baby on page 18 is worth reading the entire document!


Green soccer superstars

March 19, 2010

The folks at Mother Nature Network dropped an interesting article calling for “greens” (a.k.a. environmentalists) to Man Up, citing Gary Neville as their role model.

For those of you living in a cave, he is the captain for Manchester United and a serious defender to be reckoned with. And his commitment to sustainability? He’s the first person in the UK to build a zero emissions home. Pretty cool.