The TRI Report

  • How to Talk to Your Kids About Social Responsibility

    How to Talk to Your Kids About Social Responsibility

    These days, there’s no way to avoid the tough issues facing our global community. Media from all angles and locations cover all the world’s problems; poverty, discrimination, mass shootings and political persecution are all being reported in vivid detail, and it’s hard to absorb and process all of it. And explaining it to children can be even tougher…you want to keep them aware, but don’t want them to feel scared or overwhelmed. Here’s a few tips to make social responsibility an attainable priority for your kids.


    Scale It Down

    While us adults realize the complex and underlying messages behind such broad terminologies as “Save the Rainforest”, “End World Hunger”, and “Black Lives Matter”, kids might not see it that way. These are examples of valid but far-reaching issues that affect people in different ways. Having children identify with these enormous topics can seem to be insurmountable, as in “How can I, one kid, end world hunger?”. It can be too much, and can quickly alter the young person’s ideal of their power and effectiveness in dealing with such a huge problem. One of the best ways to break these issues into digestible parts is to simplify them by focusing on a specific example of how this affects one family in a single part of the world. This can be in a spot across the globe, or in your own state or county, but it’s important for your child to be able to relate to a smaller, more personal problem.


    Educate Yourself

    Quite often, we don’t realize the problems well enough ourselves to be able to explain it. Child labor is still an enormous problem across the globe, yet it’s not prevalent in our neighborhood. Even issues that are in our neighborhood can pass below our radar, and learning more can make for easier discussions. This article might be too much for a child to understand, but its well-written and photographed content can be sampled and absorbed by even a casual reader, and gives a kid relatable information to help them understand. Whether you’re searching for data to keep yourself up to date or for child-friendly content that you can safely share with your kid, don’t stop seeking the truth. It can help all of you.


    Taking Action

    Here’s where you can really show children how they can make a difference, and this can happen in a number of ways. Some highlight some degree of sacrifice, like donating toys or clothing, or giving blood. As with all of these actions, make sure you give them concrete proof of how those small steps make a difference. If your kid gets some birthday or holiday money and expresses a desire to try to be helpful with it, consider a more immersive way for them to contribute. Organizations like Kiva give families a chance to evaluate and choose which cause to give to; lending is also an option, showing the power of microfinance and accountability in one fell swoop. Local efforts like fundraising and volunteering are great ways of showing love to the local community, even if the funds or work go towards a far away cause…getting other kids in on the effort can really add to the awareness. Finally, shop local and buy consciously. Make sure to involve your kids in the process of why this is important, as they’ll understand more than you think. Buying fair trade products ensures that workers are treated fairly, middlemen are cut out, and, if bought locally, that some proceeds benefit your neighborhood. Small conscious steps by adults will help kids realize the good they can do, and even being aware helps raise the collective consciousness…and that’s a good thing.


    Have you had experience talking to kids about social responsibility? Any tips you’d suggest? We’d love to hear from you!




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  • How a Small Gesture Can Make a Huge Impact: Supporting Ethically Made Goods

    How a Small Gesture Can Make a Huge Impact: Supporting Ethically Made Goods

    In a small village in Northern India, under a corrugated tin roof, a small engine is running hard. It powers a belt, that, due to clever engineering, somehow turns four individual lathes. Men from the village crowd into the space, many from lower castes or with physical disabilities, waiting their turn to sit cross legged at a work space and use the knowledge passed down for generations to produce fine woodwork to sell, in order to sustain their families. Because hardwood and talented artisans are plentiful, local markets are flooded, and the village families who might have a little to spend can’t afford or don’t need the beautiful wooden toys, bowls and decorative items available for sale. City markets offer the possibility of better profit, but also include crushing travel expenses and higher cost of living. Yet these men continue to produce these goods, not knowing any other way to survive. 

    A few miles away, a group of Indian women gather in a similar workspace, often with infants strapped closely to them and toddlers wandering about; just as often, the older children are working, also. They are weaving, embroidering and dying vibrantly colored scarves, sarongs and blankets, all by hand. Painstaking attention to detail and minutiae works their fingers to the bone, and, due to low literacy rates, they rely on an external supervisor to monitor inventory and allocate payment for their work. Because the group relies on a certain quantity of goods to reach their quota, women who fall short due to illness or another family crisis may simply not get paid. Factory jobs in the city are sometimes available, but this usually involves excessively long hours in unsafe conditions.

    There are stories like this from all around the world. Matching these incredible handmade goods with appreciative consumers is ideal, but there are clearly many obstacles in the way. However, with ethical sourcing and fair-trade guidelines being instituted more and more, one can start to see the way in which individual steps can combine to leave these talented artisans much better off. Using the above scenarios, let’s see what can be done.

    • Worldwide access: With philanthropic groups finding these artisans and giving them the ability to sell their goods anywhere in the world, they can ultimately be paid a fair (or even premium) price for their products, and not worry about slashing profits to compete in a crowded local market. Additional revenue can purchase better tools and workplaces, which can ramp up productivity.
    • Education: Raising literacy rates can empower these men and women to represent their own interests, do their own bookkeeping, and learn additional skills to better their situation. Better work conditions and increased productivity can allow the children to attend school, instead of working to support the family.
    • Workplace stability: Steady production and more balanced incomes allows artisans to be paid by the item, instead of racing to meet a quota. So, a woman who is caring for a sick child could still work, albeit on a limited scale, and still receive payment for what she was able to do.
    • Improved Conditions: Watchdog groups can inspect and regulate workplace conditions, so even the densest urban factories can be a place to work safely.

     These are just a few examples of how supporting ethically sourced goods can make an enormous impact on thousands of workers and their families. Stay tuned to discover other ways you can make a difference.

    What are your thoughts on supporting ethically sourced brands? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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  • 6 Sustainable Brands to Love and Support

    6 Sustainable Brands to Love and Support


    Doesn’t it feel good to buy a gift for someone or yourself and know that your purchase helps a greater cause? Many brands make it their mission to buy from artists in third world countries to help support their economies while other brands ensure fair trade standards to ensure fair labor laws while other brands sell items that are made from organic materials.

    Isn’t it nice that doing good for the planet can be as simple as buying clothing, textiles or jewelry from the right brands? Here are 6 brands that sell amazing goods while supporting the health of our planet and its inhabitants:

    Endangered Species Chocolate

    Endangered Species Chocolate makes their bars with fair trade ingredients. They also support farmers in West Africa to ensure good working conditions and help their economy. In addition to being fair trade certified, Endangered Species Chocolate donates 10% of their profits to a variety of wildlife foundations.

    Alternative Apparel

    Alternative apparel sells garments made from eco-friendly materials such as non-toxic dyes and the brand is passionate about fair labor. They sell comfy basic pieces, many of which, are made from recycled materials. And the best part? They are both earth and budget friendly.

    Tom’s of Maine

    Tom’s of Maine carefully sources all-natural ingredients while creating amazing toothpastes, deodorants and lip care products. They’re also very transparent about their ingredients and profits and donate back to the community.

    Love Your Melon

    Love Your Melon started simply by creating free hats for children battling cancer. Now they create beautiful and trendy hats that anyone can buy online and they donate HALF OF THEIR PROFITS to support children battling cancer.

    Seventh Generation

    Seventh Generation creates plant based and organic household products like paper towels and cleaning supplies. They take a lot of care in creating products that reduce their environmental impact while producing a variety of items even including detergent for sensitive skin.

    TRI Vintage and Wares

    Since this is our blog we have to explain that these are the types of brands who inspire us to continually do good. We source all of our jewelry, textiles, goods and clothing from artists in third world countries in order to stimulate their economies and help their families. We also carry a lot of organic and fair trade certified items as well. Check out our online store.

    What is one of your favorite brand that gives back to the community or is committed to ethical practices? Share in the comments below!



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  • A “Spark Notes” Run Down on Good Fashion Practices

    A “Spark Notes” Run Down on Good Fashion Practices


    Ethical, sustainable and fair fashion trends have gained traction as consumers are becoming more aware of how their purchases affect the world around them. A “good” fashion brand means that their clothing is produced under fair labor laws, and/or is sourced with sustainable materials. Good fashion practices are an alternative to the mass production of clothing which destroys ethical practices and has negative environmental impacts. With a little research, you can buy quality clothing that are good for the environment and fair to the producers—and that’s a purchase you can feel good about.

    Terms to Note

    Fast Fashion: is a trend where clothing is quickly and massively produced right off of the cat walk, so standards like fair labor and sustainability practices are compromised. Meaning, consumers need to take a step back and think about what they are buying and how their purchases affect the planet.

    Sustainable: This focuses on the impact that the materials in the clothing have on the environment and include things like organic cotton and non-toxic dyes.

    Fair Trade: Fair trade fashion focuses on the conditions of the workers who make the clothing. To be considered fair trade, a brand must be fair trade certified.

    Ethical: The term ethical fashion combines sustainable and fair trade practices. Garments are made with materials like hemp and the conditions of the workers who make the clothes are carefully monitored.

    Slow Fashion: This term means that fashion isn’t quickly and massively produced so that standards such as sustainability aren’t compromised. Often, slower production means higher quality, and longer lasting clothes are good for everyone.

    How You Can Help

    Spend more but impact less: Instead of buying a bunch of mediocre t-shirts from Target, consider buying from an ethical brand and buy clothes you love. Creating clothes that adhere to good fashion practices tend to cost more but their positive environmental impact is worth the money.

    Donate and buy used: 15 million tons of clothing sits in landfills every year. Instead of throwing away clothes you don’t wear anymore, consider donating them. Instead of heading to the mall, consider buying gently used clothing from vintage and thrift shops.

    Check out this list: 13 ethical clothing brands to buy from and feel good about.

    Do your research: Spend a little time searching online for responsibly sourced goods…and that’s not limited to just clothing. Food, coffee/tea, jewelry, and furniture are other industries where workers can be exploited and environmental rules can be broken. There are many lists of socially conscious producers, like this ethical shopping guide, that can help you choose ethical brands.

    Shop local: This is one of the best ways to ensure that your hard-earned dollar is going to the right place. Local retailers usually have a better grasp on where they get their goods from, and cutting out as many middle-men as you can is a good thing. Plus, you’re supporting your local community…and saving a bit of gas money too.

    We’d love to know ways you dress and buy ethically. Leave a comment and let’s chat!

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