K-State Fair Trade Advocates will host a Fair Trade Valentine’s Sale from 11 a.m.-7 p.m today and Saturday at ECM Crossroads, 1021 Denison Ave. The sale is a way to raise awareness about the Fair Trade movement.
Items to be sold at the sale include handmade crafts, textile products such as handbags, cushion covers, woven baskets, bead jewelry and recycled paper stationary. Chocolate from the fair trade company Equal Exchange will also be sold specially for Valentine’s Day.
Fair Trade Advocates advisor and ECM Program Director David Jones said the timing for the Valentine’s Sale makes sense because chocolate is one of the primary products sold by fair trade organizations and is also one of the most popular Valentine’s Day gifts.
“Chocolate on Valentine’s Day is always a welcome gift,” Jones said. “But fair trade chocolate on Valentine’s Day is a value-added gift that benefits your sweetheart and many others in developing communities at the same time.”
Professor of women’s studies Torry Dickinson said she encourages students and the community to come out to the sale.
“Buying from the sale is not just supporting the artist,” she said, “but supporting a whole network as well.”
Sarah Mitts, graduate student in business, who initiated the sale, said the items at the sale are from groups supported by a fair trade craft business, AWAZ – A Voice for Empowerment, she and a friend from India have worked on.
Mitts said she has also been working in India for the past year with women artisans in low income communities.
“There are many craft traditions in India,” she said, “and it’s a common income-generating project for many rural communities, aside from agriculture production.”
Mitts said she also co-founded Fair Trade Advocates as a way to help sensitize students on critical issues affecting our world today. She said global poverty and social inequality are huge issues that are often ignored in our world today and Third World countries continue to be exploited because of capitalism.
“We can change this situation by addressing Western consumerism and purchasing products made in ethical, socially-just and sustainable ways,” Mitts said.
Since the student organization has started, Mitts said it has brought more awareness about fair trade to the Manhattan community and created more demand for fair trade products through working with local churches, businesses and the university. She said it advocated for Caribou Coffee in the Union, a company that supports Fair Trade and Rain Forest Alliance certified coffee. Also, several Manhattan churches now sell fair trade products through their congregations.
Mitts said Fair Trade Advocates has helped provide alternatives and solutions for making social change, which is exactly what the Valentine’s Day sale is for.
“We all must take responsibility and make more ethical decisions to help create a more just world,” she said.