Ethical Sourcing: The Roots of Charity

The Who, What, and Why of the Fair Trade and Ethical Sourcing Movements By Karen Akst Schecter

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

This ancient proverb has variously been attributed to Maimonides, ancient Chinese philosophers, and to a mid 19th Century British author.

Tzedek tzedek tirdof: Thou shall pursue justice.

This phrase is a key tenet of ethical living, Jewish and other. Tzedek, Hebrew for Justice, and Tzedekah, Hebrew for charity, obviously share the same linguistic roots.

According to Maimonides, there are eight levels of charity. The greatest level is when one gives charity in a manner that enables the recipient to find a way to be self-sufficient.

Put these all together and one arrives at ethical sourcing and fair trade: social justice movements that allow the consumer to spend money in a manner consistent with his or her values to do good in this world while at the same time making certain that workers around the globe are paid fair wages to help them develop the knowledge and skills to support themselves, their families, and their communities.

Ethical sourcing is all about relationships between buyer and seller that value mutual respect, transparency, fairness, and cooperation.

Ethical sourcing empowers women, men, children and under-resourced communities by improving the livelihoods and working conditions of the household and community as a whole and ensuring the rights of children. Ethical sourcing embraces diversity and ensures respect for the cultural values of the artisans with whom we work and their communities. Ethical sourcing values sustainability, recycling, and respect for the environment and the planet on which we live and that we share. Ethical sourcing is based on transparency and global dialogue, and ensures equal economic opportunity for the artisans in developing countries who are all too frequently socially and economically marginalized.

According to the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), Fair Trade is more than just trading:

  • It proves that greater justice in world trade is possible.
  • It highlights the need for change in the rules and practice of conventional trade and shows how a successful business can also put people first.
  • It is a tangible contribution to the fight against poverty, climate change and economic crisis.

At the Aesthetic Sense: Goods for the Soul, we live these principles. We trade in goods that are good for the soul. We welcome you to take this journey with us.



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By Karen Akst Schecter

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