Fair Trade Wedding Dresses: Celia Grace

Photos Courtesy Celia Grace

If you’re planning a wedding, have you given much thought to the dress you’ll be wearing? And I don’t mean thinking about how stunning it’s going to be. I mean, have you thought about where that dress will be made? Where it will come from? How will that dress impact the environment, and the person who made it?

When I got married back in 2004, I’ll admit these important questions didn’t cross my mind at all. However, if I had it to do over again I would definitely spend time thinking about how my event, and my dress, might benefit someone else. If I had a do-over, I would  go with a fair trade or vintage wedding dress. And, I’m not the only one.

Marcelia Muehlke started Celia Grace after she was unable to find a wedding dress that matched her commitment to human rights and sustainability.  Celia Grace is a triple bottom line company, focusing on people, planet, and profit.

Celia Grace uses naturally-dyed, local silks made on non-electric looms. The seamstresses are members of women’s cooperatives located in places like Cambodia. They’re paid a living wage with regular raises and job security. They also have access to benefits, an eight-hour work day, and a safe, healthy, and bright working environment.

This is the kind of company we here at Earth Divas love to support!

Celia Grace’s fair trade wedding dresses are etherial and lovely. Take a look below.

The Susan

The Eleanor

The Marie

Celia Grace has eight wedding dress designs. You can see them all here!

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They’re Classics for a Reason

Throughout the summer, I’ve been spending quite a bit of time here on the blog talking about our newest line of fair trade bags. It’s always fun to see the new designs our artisans come up with, and I love highlighting their talent here on the blog!

But, we do have some bags that are persistent best-sellers. Some designs come and go, but these particular bags are always popular with customers. Here are a few of my favorite best-sellers.

1. Wool Crewel Work Bag

The craftsmanship on our Wool Crewel Bags is amazing; these bags are vibrant, colorful, and high-quality. You can tell just by looking at this bag that the artist put a ton of time in to make it. This is why our Wool Crewel Work bags is a huge best-seller here at Earth Divas.

2. Long Handled Embroidered Bag

Our Long Handled Embroidered Bag is similar to the Wool Crewel bags in that the embroidery and craftsmanship is amazing.

3. Sanskrit Hobo

Our Sanskrit Hobo is very much like a gypsy bag. With its black fringe and edgy look, this popular bag is perfect for festivals or a long afternoon touring a city.

4. Cotton Modern Eco Handbag

I think it was early fall of last year that this line of Cotton Modern Eco Handbags came out, and they’ve been a best-seller ever since. I think it’s because they’re classic, simple, and lightweight, and still very stylish and modern.

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My Favorite Fair Trade Baskets

If you’ve walked through any farmer’s market, Whole Foods, or Earth Fare, then you’ve likely see the colorful, handwoven baskets for sale there. These fair trade market baskets are beautiful to look at, and like many fair trade items, chances are it was woven by a woman struggling to feed her family.

I love looking at these baskets, and I’m ready to own one myself. So, I wanted to highlight a few of my favorite fair trade baskets that I’m thinking about getting.

1. Fair Trade Bicycle Basket

This colorful fair trade bike basket is sold through SERVV. It was woven by women working with Trade Aid Integrated, a non-profit organization in Ghana. These women are located in 17 communities throughout Ghana.

2. Bridge to Africa Fruit Basket

Bridge to Africa is part of the Earth Divas’ Divas4Divas initiative, and it’s a wonderful organization worthy of all our support! This amazing basket is handwoven by women in Swaziland using local lutindzi grass. The fair wage they earn by selling these baskets through the Gone Rural organization helps feed their families; these women also have access to health and education benefits through the organization.

3. Fair Trade Market Tote

This beautiful fair trade market tote is sold by Ten Thousand Villages. I love this tote because it’s definitely big enough for all my fruits and veggies at farmer’s market. I also love the open pinwheels that circle the basket! The basket is handwoven by women with Rishilpi Development, a non-profit organization who helps organize women in the Rishi caste of Bangladesh, and gives them the power to sell their handwoven goods around the world.

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Eco Friendly Backpacks for Back to School

Every year, come late July, those three little words start popping up everywhere…”Back to School.” I start seeing bright yellow pencils, single-subject notebooks, and snowy white bottles of glue lined up neatly on store shelves. I also start seeing parents eyeing eco-friendly lunchboxes, water bottles, and backpacks.

The backpacks we make here at Earth Divas are a great choice for your kids because they’re eco-friendly. Many are made from recycled material. And, they’re 100% fair trade. The artisans who make our bags are paid fairly for their work, and we also send 100% of the profits from Earth Divas back to them at the end of the year.

I wanted to highlight some of our backpacks for you to consider sending your kids to school with this year!

1. Small Aztec Backpack

Our Small Aztec Backpack is one of my favorites because it’s lightweight, bright, and colorful. It’s also matches perfectly with the Southwest/Native American style that’s so trendy right now.

2. Recycled Rice Bag Backpacks

Our Recycled Rice Bag Backpacks are one of our best-sellers, and with good reason. They’re incredibly sturdy, and they look really cool because they’re made of, you guessed it, recycled rice bags. I carry one of these backpacks myself, and I love it.

Our Recycled Rice Backpacks also come in several other colors.

We also have a super cool Recycled Rice Bag Duffle Bag. Here’s what it looks like. And yep, that’s our owner Ed modeling the new bag!

3. Triangle Backpack

Our Triangle Backpack has such a cool shape! It’s actually a lot larger than it looks. You can see this cool bag, in orange, on Ed below.

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Fair Trade Clothing? The Sustainable Apparel Coalition is Working On It…

For decades now we’ve had fair trade labeling and certification for food. However, the fair trade industry is still lacking a certification and labeling system for apparel. And, this is just what the Sustainable Apparel Coalition is trying to change.

This non-profit organization is trying to change the way the apparel industry treats its workers, and approaches sustainable.

Here is their vision:

An apparel and footwear industry that produces no unnecessary environmental harm and has a positive impact on the people and communities associated with its activities.

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition created the Higg Index; this is a tool that helps companies and manufacturers measure the human and environmental costs of their clothing and footwear production. In their words, here’s what the Higg Index does:

The Higg Index 1.0 is primarily an indicator based tool for apparel that enables companies to evaluate material types, products, facilities and processes based on a range of environmental and product design choices.  The Index asks practice-based, qualitative questions to gauge environmental sustainability performance and drive behavior for improvement.  It is based largely on the Eco Index and Nike’s Apparel Environmental Design Tool, however it has been significantly enhanced through a pilot testing period.

I love the idea of the Higg Index because it gives companies and manufactures the chance to truly measure how their actions are impacting both people and planet. It’s a brilliant idea, and one that has the potential to change the entire clothing manufacturing industry.

Who’s Part of the Coalition?

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition is made up of over 80 mid to large sized clothing and footwear manufacturers. You can see the full list here, but here’s a quick summary of who has joined this worthy cause:

  • Adidas
  • Asics
  • Burberry
  • Columbia
  • Espirit
  • Hanes
  • Levis
  • Marmot
  • Nike
  • Patagonia
  • Puma
  • H&M
  • LL Bean
  • REI
  • Target

I know the organization is still in its early stages. And there is still a long, LONG way to go before we can avoid another catastrophe like Bangladesh. However, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition is at least a start. And no journey can be started without these small first steps.

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More Upcycling Ideas from Pinterest

If I wasn’t careful, I could literally spend hours a day scrolling through Pinterest. There are so many beautiful pictures and amazing ideas on there!

I have a Board for DIY and Upcycling ideas (you can follow me at HemingwayLove.) And, I wanted to highlight some of my favorite upcycling projects in case you’re getting ready for a new wardrobe, or want to projects to work on for back to school!

1. Men’s Shirt Upcycled Into a Dress

If you have sewing skills, call me because I want to make this! You can see the original dress here on Pinterest.

Wouldn’t this amazing dress look cute with some white Converse, and one of our fair trade bags? I think our Sunflower Backpack would look great paired with this dress.

2. Added Lace

First, look at this incredible shirt here on Pinterest.

Ok, next, this is actually a Free People shirt. But the design is amazing and I think it gives all of us lots of ideas on how we could update and upcycle our thermals to make them more feminine and interesting. I think this shirt would look perfect with our Lace Hobo Bag.

3. Create an Apron

You can find this incredible apron here.

Isn’t this apron gorgeous! To me, I could never wear something like this in the kitchen. I think this apron would work best as a type of dress, with a plain colored short-sleeved blouse underneath, and colored tights or skinny jeans. I think this upcycled apron would pair best with our own Recycled Sari Bag.

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Fair Trade Pre-Fall Bags

Right now, it’s the middle of July. We’re in the apex of summer, at a time when lightening bugs still hold sway, thunderstorms roll through in the afternoons to freshen things up, and you spend more time barefooted than you do wearing shoes. This time of year is full of lazy picnics, tree swings, open windows, and bright hippy dresses.

So, why on earth am I about to write about fall? Well, because as I’ve been trolling around on my favorite fashion and lifestyle blogs, I’ve started to see whisperings of September. Color pallets are getting a little darker; bags are getting a bit bigger; boots are replacing sandals and Converse, and photo shoots are taking place during rainy afternoons rather than a bright sunny morning.

I thought it would be fun to start my own whisperings and highlight a few of our newest fair trade bags that I think are perfect for early fall.

1. Rugged Weathered Hobo Bag

Our Rugged Weathered Hobo Bag is perfect for fall. The shape is perfect for edge, fall afternoons, and the warm brown matches with the leaves as they go from green to the warm tones of red, brown, yellow, and orange.

2. Lace Hobo Bag

I know I just highlighted our Lace Hobo Bag yesterday. But really, what’s not to love? It’s a perfect bag for early fall, and I couldn’t leave it out.

3. Green Mesh Bag

Our Green Mesh Bag is a bit more formal looking than many of our other bags. But this is part of its appeal.

4. Recycled Bike Tire Tube Hobo

Our Recycled Bike Tire Tube Hobo just looks like it’s ready for fall. The black bike tire tubes gives this bag an edgy look, and the colors are great for early fall.

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Fair Trade Travel Bags

I love travelling. I love packing just the bare necessities into a few bags and setting off to a new place.

Travelers often go through a predictable dilemma. If you pack super light you don’t have to lug around a bunch of heavy carry-on bags. But packing light also means that you’re missing several items that will make your flight more comfortable.

You can choose to carry a larger bag, but this can turn into a trial when you have to unload practically everything at security. However, it means you have all your necessaries for a comfortable trip.

So what camp do you fall into? Personally, when I travel I take a bare minimum of clothing; usually only a backpack’s full (even if I’m gone for two weeks.) I’ll carry a hobo-style bag for the flight itself. And I’ll pack a super small purse for my day-to-day walking around where ever I’m going.

If I were headed on a trip, these are some of our newest bags I would take along.

1. Lace Hobo

I love our new Lace Hobo bag. This is the kind of bag that makes a perfect carry-on bag. There’s room for a sweater (because every plane is an icebox,) a bottle of water, a great book, some lotion (because the average humidity on a plane is drier than the Sahara Desert — that’s not an exaggeration,) an iPod or tablet, and your wallet.

I also love the style and coloring of this bag; it’s like a gypsy carpet bag!

2. Four Zip Passport Bag

Our new Four Zip Passport Bags are perfect for travel because they’re big enough for the bare essentials, but small enough so that they don’t get too heavy when you’re walking around for hours in a new city.

Travel tip: It’s always best to travel with a purse that has a long strap like this. You should always wear the purse cross-body (rather than just hanging off your shoulder) so that thieves can run by and snatch it. Another way they do this is to zip past on a moped or scooter and grab bags. So, purses with long straps are a must-have when you travel.

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New Favorite Eco-Shopping Site: Lydali

This week I stumbled onto an eco and ethical shopping site that I am now madly in love with. The site is Lydali. And I can show you, in pictures, what they stand for.

Put simply, Lydali pulls together artisans from all over the world and promises them a fair wage for the beautiful items they produce. Pretty much what we’re trying to do here at Earth Divas, only we’re focusing intently on two areas: India and Nepal.

Lydali’s artisans are all over the word. There’s a wonderful map that I pulled from their website that shows where their artisans are located.

So, what does Lydali carry? Lovely things. I’m going to highlight their scarves because a) I love them and b) it’s summer and everyone needs a light and breezy summer scarf.

Isn’t this scarf gorgeous? It’s their Green and Orange Kantha Scarf. It’s made from recycled saris in Dhaka, Bangladesh. What I love about Lydali is that every product has a story, and you can read about the people, co-op, or organization who makes each product. For example, here’s the bio of the organization making this scarf:

Basha’s house of hope is a small business based in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka with a mission to help women who have little status and are living in poverty have a better life. Basha trains a number of women to turn their talent to making jewelry and beautiful Kantha throws and bedspreads, helping to provide them with reliable jobs and incomes.

This organization sounds like several that we support here at Earth Divas.

My other favorite scarf is actually called just that: Secret Favorite Scarf.

Here’s the bio about this scarf:

This Ethiopian cotton scarf is so awesome that it will soon become your not-so-secret favorite scarf. Woven by women artisans in Ethiopia, it’ll quickly become one of your favorite pieces to wear and share the story behind.

So, you get the picture. Lydali carries wonderful products that are fairly traded and ethically sourced. Their bag and jewelry section will make you swoon. So please, go support this wonderful business!

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Fair Trade, Recycled Shopping Bags

It was a hard habit to develop, but I’m finally at the point where I remember my reusable shopping bags almost every time I go to the store. And, I love to see that I’m not the only one. It seems like the people bringing reusable bags are almost equal to the people using plastic.

That’s wonderful progress for the environment because plastic bags can take 500 to 1,000 years to decompose in a landfill. When they escape out of the garbage the get stuck in trees, posing a deadly hazard to birds and other wildlife. And they’re just unsightly to look out.

The fewer plastic bags we use, the better!

Here at Earth Divas, we offer a number of reusable shopping bags that I love. Here’s our newest shopping bag, which is a fair trade bag made from recycled rice bags.

How to Remember Your Reusable Shopping Bags

Like I said, I used to forget my shopping bags all the time. Here’s how I made a habit out of grabbing my bags.

1. Keep Them In Sight

“Out of sight, out of mind” is true for a reason. If you don’t see your bags, you’re probably going to forget them, at least until it becomes a habit. When I started using eco-friendly shopping bags, I bought a large one that I really enjoyed looking at, and stuffed all the others inside. I then hung that large shopping bag in my kitchen.

It became a work of art that brightened up the wall. And I always saw it while I was making my grocery list.

You can also keep your reusable shopping bags in your car. This one can be harder to start doing because as soon as you unload your groceries, you have to remember to take your bags right back out to your car for next time. I tried this, but I was more successful hanging my bag inside my kitchen.

2. Keep a Bag In Your Purse

You’ve probably seen those thin nylon bags that ball up really small, and are stored inside a thin sack. These are about the size of an egg, and they are perfect for keeping in your purse (especially if you have one of our new Hobo Bags with tons of room!)

I need to get one of these for those times that I pop into the store when I didn’t expect to. I’m always caught without a reusable bags during these times, and one of those tiny ones would work out perfect.

How do you remember to take your reusable bags? I’d love to hear your tips and strategies in the comments!

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