Walking into the Kathmandu production center’s reception you are immediately greeted by a cheerful ‘Namaste’ (‘I Salute the God Within You’) with hands pressed together in a prayerful expression. Proceeding into any of the production halls you’ll be greeted by a complete chorus of the same as dozens of ladies press felt into a variety of shapes, while others stitch, needle and applique to finish hundreds of different styles of decorative items for export.
Sheep’s wool is an amazingly adaptable fiber. It can be dyed any color and when hand felted using warm mildly soapy water it can be molded into any shape, or then cut and sewn together as per your imagination. Because the felting and most of the stitching process is all done by hand with natural materials that can be sustainably harvested, hand felted products have a relatively soft impact on the environment. Commercial exports of felted products from Nepal have grown exponentially since around 2000, benefitting thousands of mostly women workers, production managers and family businesses who help support their families and educate their children with their earnings.
Fair Trade Matters!
At Yoga Geek we feel that the principles of Fair Trade mirror the finest principles of the various Yoga and Meditation traditions and practices that we respect. Fair Trade is a global movement that began in the 40’s and exists now as various parallel initiatives throughout the world. Driven by the efforts of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and socially motivated individuals, Fair Trade began by providing advice, assistance and support to disadvantaged producers. Fair Trade has come to be a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers.
In keeping with the spirit of the Eight Limbs of Yoga, here are eight reasons we feel so strongly about, and are happy to be offering, Fair Trade products to our Yoga and Meditation communities:
- Fair Trade products are made in safe and healthy working conditions, where artisans receive a fair price and have a voice in how their workplace is run.
- Fair Trade embraces practices that minimize our environmental footprint.
- Artisans take pride in their work. Crafts are handmade, which translates into closer attention to detail and in the end higher-quality products
- By working through cooperative structures, Fair Trade artisans are able to invest Fair Trade earnings in their communities, improving housing, healthcare, and schools.
- Fair Trade products are unique to the places they come from and the people who make them. Farmers and artisans are involved in the entire process, and Fair Trade products reflect the people and cultures they come from.
- Fair Trade gives farmers and artisans control of their own future. They can build their own businesses, rather than working for a middleman, and the profits stay in their communities and go back into their businesses.
- By choosing Fair Trade products, you are not only accessing high quality products, you are making a difference in the lives of the people who grow the food you eat and/or the goods you use.
- Fair Trade prohibits child labor, ensures health and safety measures are established in order to avoid work-related injuries and follows International Labor Conventions (ILO). Workers are guaranteed access to healthcare and community development premiums can be used to provide greater access to /quality of healthcare and education.