Just a few years ago, I never thought twice about buying a piece of jewelry, or a hat, or a sweater, off the shelf. If it was cool, and it struck my fancy, then it came home with me. End of story. I never gave it much thought.
Everything began to change when I discovered Etsy. Through Etsy, I discovered an entire world of handmade art, clothing and jewelry that I never would have found otherwise.
My first handmade purchase on the site was a lovely, handmade sea glass necklace from SeaFindDesigns. Yes, I’ve mentioned them several times on this blog; their line of eco jewelry is a sheer delight to me. And when it came in I was surprised at how meaningful it was.
I mean, Tracy (the artist) had actually gone out to the beach and found this piece of beach glass. She then took it to her shop and, using her hands and her skill, created this amazing little necklace that I was now wearing. There was not another necklace exactly like the one I was wearing, in the whole world.
You certainly can’t say that about the cheapo bags and necklaces you pick up at Target. Those mass produced items made in China are likely gracing the necks of tens of thousands of people all over the world.
Then I started working with Earth Divas. And my appreciation for handmade increased ten fold.
Just think about it for a moment: the hemp handbags sold through Earth Divas are made, by hand, by women half way around the world who desperately need a leg up in life. The work they do for Earth Divas provides them with a fair wage, and the self confidence they need to believe they’re worth more than society has made them believe.
That’s the beauty of handmade. You can clearly see that another human being is on the other side of the product you’re now wearing or using. With mass produced items, it’s a machine.
There’s just no comparison. Handmade supports another person, somewhere in the world. The mass produced stuff you can buy anytime at Target or Wal-Mart simply contributes to that company’s bottom line.
Want to make a real difference in someone’s life? Buy handmade whenever you can. I do now; the items I buy handmade are treasured keepsakes because a person, not a machine, made them for me.
Filed under: Fair Trade Living on February 22nd, 2011