As well as ensuring our products support and respect the people that make them, The Fair Trader makes it a priority to stock products that tread gently on the earth, and to minimise our environmental impact behind the scenes.
We stock products that embody the following environmental values
Natural & Recycled Materials
We are proud to say that almost every product at The Fair Trader is made from natural or recycled materials.
Our homewares are made from sustainable materials including jute, rattan, seagrass and stainless steel.
Our clothing and socks are made from organic cotton, linen or alpaca wool.
Our bags and wallets are made from leather, hemp, jute, wool or upcycled op shop fabrics.
Our scarves and winter accessories are made from alpaca, wool, silk, cashmere or modal.
Our toys and baby gifts are made from organic cotton, homespun wool or sustainably-souced wood.
Our jewellery is made of recycled brass, recycled aluminium, upcycled saris, tagua nuts, sisal or stirling silver.
And our stationery is made from 100% recycled post-consumer waste paper or handmade cotton paper.
Photo: Bush Medijina
We are a proud stockist of Bush Medijina and Purple House 'Bush Balm' skincare ranges, which both use native, wild harvested Australian plants that have been used as bush medicine by Aboriginal people for thousands of years. They blend these powerful plants with organic ingredients like coconut oil and beeswax.
The Pala sunglasses we stock are made from plant-based bioacetate, and the Etiko thongs we stock are made from natural latex rubber, making both of these products biodegradable at the end of their usable lives.
We prefer to source products that use vegetable-based dyes, inks and paints, and vegetable-tanned leather. We also have a wide selection of cruelty-free and vegan products.
Sustainable Farming and Production
Jute, fondly known as 'the golden fibre', comes from the Corchorus olitorius and Corchorus capsularis plants. Jute grows predominantly in Bangladesh, and is the same fibre that is used to make burlap and hession. Jute fibres are very sturdy and strong, and they are built to last, which makes jute the perfect material for products that are used regularly like baskets, bags and placemats.
- Jute grows very quickly, reaching maturation within 4 to 6 months of it being planted. Harvested twice a year, it is a highly renewable fibre
- Cultivating jute in crop rotations enriches the fertility of the soil for the next crop
- Jute does not require much manual irrigation because it grows naturally in tropical areas where rainfall is high
- Raw jute is washed in boiling water to kill any insects that may be present, making it entirely chemical-free
- The jute plant consumes carbon dioxide and releases oxygen at a rate much higher than trees. A hectare of jute plants consumes about 15 tonnes of carbon dioxide and releases 11 tonnes of oxygen. By removing carbon dioxide from the air, jute helps fight climate change
- Jute fibre is 100% biodegradable and compostable. It typically biodegrades in 1 - 2 years
Rattan is a climbing palm that is native to the rainforests of Indonesia. The vine-like branches climb up the tropical trees, and can grow hundreds of metres long.
Some of the baskets we sell at The Fair Trader are made using Kubu Rattan. Kubu is a technique where the harvested rattan is submerged in a pond of mud and leaves for about four weeks before weaving the baskets. It is a natural treatment against woodworm and other bugs, without the use of chemicals.
- Rattan grows naturally in tropical rainforests, therefore it does not interrupt the balance of the local environment
- Rattan helps fight climate change by cleaning the air of carbon dioxide
- Rattan renews in 5 to 7 years, making it an extremely sustainable wood
- The processes that are used to make rattan baskets are all manual, which means there is no impact on the environment from industrial production facilities
- Rattan products can withstand the elements therefore they are great for indoor or outdoor use and will last for a very long time
Image Courtesy of BiorE India
Most of the cotton used to make clothing in the fashion industry is conventional cotton, which relies heavily on the use of harmful chemicals such as herbicides, pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. The overuse of such chemicals and their impact on the environment and people's health is concerning. Pesticide and fertiliser use on cotton has been linked to ground and surface water contamination, and drinking water pollution. At high enough levels in drinking water, nitrates from nitrogen fertilizer are known to cause methemoglobinemia, or "blue baby syndrome," in newborns. Pesticides have also been linked to declining numbers of endangered species.
At The Fair Trader we stock clothing, socks and toys that are made from organic cotton. Organic cotton is far more sustainable than conventional cotton because it uses natural growing systems to cultivate crops, rather than relying on the use of chemicals. While conventional cotton farmers are reacting to ecological problems that have been caused by Western farming practices, organic farmers work with the land to prevent environmental issues before they occur.
Hemp grows naturally in the Himalayas and has been used for thousands of years to make clothing, rope and building materials. Hemp fibre is derived from the outer layers of the long woody stems of the Sativa plant. Our range of hemp products includes bags, homewares and zero waste personal care products.
- Hemp uses less water compared cotton and also has a higher yield
- Hemp plants mature very quickly - in only 3 to 4 months
- Hemp is 100% biodegradable and compostable
- Not only does hemp require fewer pesticides and no herbicides to produce, but it also helps remove toxins from the soil
- The fabric made of hemp fibres is breathable, durable and naturally anti-microbial
The majority of our winter warmers, which includes jumpers, scarves, gloves and beanies, are made from super sustainable alpaca wool in South America.
Alpacas have a low impact on their environment and are one of the most eco-friendly animals on Earth. They are fuel-efficient, low-methane-producing animals thanks to their three-part stomach. They naturally prefer to use a common area for their ‘business’ and their faeces are pH neutral.
They do not usually eat or destroy trees, preferring tender native grasses, which are not pulled up by the roots but are nibbled off above the ground with their teeth.
Unlike the hooves of sheep and cattle, Alpacas have padded feet, and they leave even the most delicate terrain undamaged.
An alpaca produces enough fleece each year to create several soft, warm sweaters for our comfort. These are just some of the ways in which the alpaca contributes to slow fashion, sustainability and energy conservation!
The leather bags and wallets we stock are handmade ethically in India, Nepal and Indonesia, often by very small, family owned businesses.
Where possible, we try to source pure vegetable tanned leather, a natural alternative to chromium-tanned leather that often leaches toxins into the water supply.
Our suppliers aim to use all of the animal hide. Remnant leather offcuts are reworked into design features such as woven features, tassels, logos and straps. Our suppliers make their samples with offcuts from production, even when this means the samples are made in different coloured leathers. They are also working towards using natural dyes instead of chemical dyes.
Our leather products are made from cow and sheep hide that are a by-product of the food industry.
Wild Timor Organic Coffee
Photo: Wild Timor Coffee Co.
We stock Wild Timor Coffee which is organically grown, making it completely free of pesticides and fertilisers. The coffee is sourced from the mountainous region of Aileu in Timor-Leste where the coffee plants grow wild. Each bean is hand picked and sorted by local Timorese people. The coffee plants are shade grown and bird friendly. No chemical substances touch the coffee beans in their journey from plant to consumer, making it good for the environment and good for you!
We know that having vegan options is important to many of our customers, so we offer a range of vegan products including chocolate, bags, homewares, soap and skincare. We stock Conscious Step socks which are certified vegan.
View our vegan collection here.
The Fair Trader is committed to the fight against single-use plastics by providing plastic-free and reusable alternatives to everyday products. Some of the products in our Sustainability Collection include:
- Beeswax wraps
- Untrashy natural wooden household brushes and stainless steel pegs
- Reusable and biodegradable personal care products including make up wipes, safety razors and silk dental floss
- Shampoo bars and shaving soap
- Travel bamboo cutlery sets and bento boxes
- Reusable coffee cups
- Pala biodegradable sunglasses
We love supporting local Australian makers and Indigenous-owned businesses. The Fair Trader are stockists of:
- Robert Gordon (Pakenham, Victoria)
- Thurlby Herb Farm (Western Australia)
- The Hazelnut Tree (Melbourne)
- HoneyBee Food Wraps (Mullumbimby)
- Bush Medijina (an Indigenous-owned business based in Groote Eylandt)
- Purple House's Bush Balms (an Indigenous-owned business based in Central Australia)
- Earth Greetings cards and stationery
- Alperstein Designs Indigenous Art (Yuendumu, NT and other areas)
- Hey Tiger chocolate (Melbourne)
Post Packaging, Bags & Gift Wrapping
As well as providing our customers with sustainable and plastic free products, we are continually striving as a business and individuals to minimise our use of single use plastics behind the scenes.
Our padded post satchels are made from FSC certified paper and recycled paper pulp. If your purchase doesn't fit in one of our satchels, we do our best to reuse boxes and packing materials that have been sent to us. We also offer in store pickup at Croydon South for local customers.
Our in store carry bags are made from paper. Small to medium-sized items will fit in one of our special handmade Fair Trader bags (pictured above) that are made from upcycled Melways, magazines and old books, and then handsewn by a lovely lady in Melbourne called Mary. These gorgeous, unique bags can be reused for gifts. We also encourage customers to bring their own bags, and we have lots of reusable shopping bags available for purchase in store.
Our gift wrapping paper is made in Australia with certified chain of custody sustainable plantation forest paper, Australian made inks, 100% solar energy, and zero footprint carbon offset natural gas. The wrapping paper is fully recyclable and helps support a community windfarm in Daylesford, Victoria. We use natural twine and string in our gift wrapping, and add the finishing touch of a dried gumleaf or gumnut to make it extra beautiful. On quiet days in the shop you will find one of our team members painstakingly hole-punching gumleaves by hand for this very purpose!
Our hampers are wrapped with biodegradable cellophane and natural twine or string.
We stock cards from Earth Greetings whose cards are made in Australia using 100% recycled post consumer waste paper and vegetable based inks. Earth Greetings is a carbon neutral business. Their designs feature artwork by local Australian and Australian Indigenous artists.