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the truth about recycling 10,000 shirts and the impact fair trade has women in developing countries

I never quite know what to write here—you know the spot where I am supposed to say something profound and inspirational about this collection. I have been sitting here for three hours...watching 13 Going on 30...yes true story...and reading inspirational blogs—still nothing. 

I thought about telling you the simplicity I felt sitting in one of my seamstress's one room dirt floor houses playing connect the dots by candlelight because we didn’t know each other’s language and I thought it would be a good idea to live with their family for a week.

I thought about talking about when we had an honest discussion with our seamstresses in Honduras about what it would mean to truly  partner together—after which everyone in the workshop was crying.   

Or telling you all the gory details of when I begged my Haitian ‘mother’ to let me walk 3 hours with her to the market.

Or the time I walked into Goodwill and they said, “Oh so you’re the button down shirt lady.” After they collected literally ten thousand shirts for us to recycle.

But while these stories give a small glimpse of what life is like for the women who are impacted by sewing these clothes and the process of making them, it does not give you the whole picture.

The truth is, the reason I have nothing to say is because there is so much more here than I can explain in words. Sometimes the language barriers are exhausting, sometimes it can be so hard to create a true partnership with people from two completely different cultures, and sometimes people look at you very strangely when you ask for ten thousand used shirts.

But I do know fair trade production does actually impact women in developing countries.  And while it can be very difficult to quantify these changes and sometimes it’s messier than we would like you to think—time and again I have seen that it is a sustainable way to help women out of poverty.  I wish you all could meet the people behind these clothes, and hear their stories, and walk three hours with them...but until then—please know your purchase actually does have an impact on their lives. 

Thank you for your support!

Liz