Friday, November 1, 2013

Fair Trade – From a Different Angle

With October being National Fair Trade Month, there is, expectedly, plentiful conversation had around the tenets of Fair Trade. What is the quality of the products being made? What is the compensation offered to the producers? Are the working environments safe for those doing the work?
Alaffia Basket Weaving Coop in Ghana
Sokode Shea Butter Coop

In all of this necessary conversation, a piece of Fair Trade that often goes without mention is what the products are packaged in. Plastic packaging is everywhere, global production of plastics has doubled over the past 15 years (2008), and only in the recent past has a dialogue opened up about the toxicity levels in this popular form of packaging.

A few of the more toxic ingredients used in the creation of plastic are BPA, PVC, and Polystyrene. The dangers of these are relatively well known, yet they are still widely used. Each are known to leach cancer causing properties into whatever they contain, and in the case of beauty products, this then becomes absorbed into your bloodstream within seconds. We include Fair Trade in our packaging process as well. We source the majority of our packaging from local manufacturers, who work to create non-toxic packaging made from post-consumer waste. By using packaging from our surrounding states, we are supporting our local US based economy rather than outsourcing to factories in places like China where the welfare of the workers is in question. In many of those factories, the workers face serious long-term health risks, including multiple types of cancers and lymphomas. Additionally, by sourcing in majority from California and Utah, we are working to reduce our carbon footprint by forgoing the expense of international export.Our packaging supplier routinely inspects their domestic and international facilities to ensure that employees are working in safe and non-toxic environments; the well-being of the workers is a focus.
Sorting Shea nuts at the Sokode Coop
Part of the Shea butter making process

Alaffia products in the making at our Olympia headquarters

Safely packaged, finished product. 

At Alaffia, we feel that Fair Trade should encompass the entire production process from harvest to shelf. From providing fair wages to those who harvest our raw ingredients in Togo, to those who formulate and create our products here in Olympia, Wa. to the bottles those products are filled in. We strive to maintain transparent relationships with all who contribute to the creation of an Alaffia product.

Sources drawn from:


  1. The recent articles about plastic products confirm that the European countries have already contributed to the plastic re-usage. Academic blogs and college communities write daily about environmental problems, including this one. University projects are also supporting the protection of nature guidelines suggested by University of Southern Indiana.


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