Something new is brewing for fair trade in Portland and I’m not talking about that delicious coffee over at Stumptown. Lois Gearhart, manager of our city’s Ten Thousand Villages store, is keeping a Portland Fair Trade blog to bring the fair trade community together. Check it out to see what’s new in fair trade in Portland, how you can get involved and who else is talking about fair trade. Thanks Lois and all the bloggers at Portland Fair Trade for keeping us up to date on such important issues!
Today I saved $254.65 on my family’s weekly groceries! However did you manage that? I hear you ask. It took a lot of prep, two hours of shopping at two different grocery stores, lots of bribing Grace, plus a trip through the Burgerville drive-thru on the way home. My deeply discounted purchases included organic beef, wild caught salmon, organic fruit and vegetables and organic milk, and I saved big on every single one.
Before I tell you how I did it, let me tell you who inspired me. I read this article in our local paper a few months ago about Louise Jaffe, a local coupon guru who regularly saves 75% off her grocery bill just by shopping smart. She blogs about it so I turned to her site for advice last week to see if I could do the same while still shopping sustainably.
I’ve always been a coupon clipper from the paper but now I’ve gone hardcore, at least this week. First I perused my Sunday Oregonian for grocery store ads and manufacturer’s coupons. I compared what was on sale at different stores to my grocery list and made a list for each store. I chose to focus on just two stores as I knew my schedule (and sanity) couldn’t accomodate more. I chose Safeway and Thriftway since they’re both reasonably close and had the best prices on the things I needed.
My list for each store was made almost entirely of items on sale at that store that I needed. I also found I had a number of matching manufacturer’s coupons plus both stores offer double coupons. On top of that, both stores offered $10 off your order of $50 or more this week through coupons in the paper. I stocked up on items that were really, really cheap and would store or freeze easily.
Here are some examples of my favorite deals today:
- Buy one, get one free on organic blueberries and organic grape tomatoes (neither available yet in the farmers’ market but both coming soon to our yard!)
- Wild Atlantic salmon for $9.99/ pound. I bought 5 pounds, had the butcher wrap each pound separately for easy thawing and froze them all.
- The clearance section was full of organic beef tenderloin at 50% off. I bought four packs (about 10 pounds worth $76) for $38. It’s all in the freezer.
- Organic Valley milk is on sale for $3.69. I printed off $1 off coupons from Organic Valley’s website (you can print the coupon up to two times) plus used double coupons to get a total $1.50 off each half gallon, or $2.19/ half gallon.
- Kettle chips are on sale 3 for $5 or $1.69 each. I was kicking myself for not having anymore $1 off coupons from the Chinook book. If I had I could have doubled them for 50 cents more off (the max Thriftway will double a coupon) and paid $0.19/ bag. Alas I did not have any more but $1.69 is still a great price.
- While not organic, I did save really big on my husband’s favorite Raisin Bran Crunch cereal. The Thriftway insert in Sunday’s paper had a coupon for buy 3/get 3 free. Then I had 3 manufacturer’s coupons totaling $3.50 off. My double coupon gave me another $1.50 off. All 6 boxes cost a total of $7 or $1.25/ box. He’ll be happy with that for quite a while while I enjoy my Barbara’s Shredded Spoonfuls.
My total bill between the two stores was still higher than a normal weekly shopping bill. After all the savings I still spent $228.44. However we’re now stocked up on really nice meat and fish for at least 2-3 weeks. We’re also headed to the beach with friends this weekend so my bill included several meals for 12.
I don’t think I could shop this way every week but I don’t think I’ll have to to still save big. If I do crazy coupon shopping (my new moniker for it) every 2-3 weeks I can stock up on canned goods, cereal and meats I can freeze when they’re on sale. We’re growing a lot of berries and veggies and buying the rest of our produce at the farmers’ market so I figure I can shop there weekly for fresh items. Now that I know how much money I can save if I just put some thought into it, I’m pretty sure I’m hooked.
I’d love to hear what deals you’ve found and how you manage to save money for your family while shopping for sustainable foods. What do you do? Have you tried this kind of crazy coupon shopping and does it work for you?
If you’re a mom concerned about living green with and for the sake of a little one, you have to get a hold of Melissa Moog’s new book Itsabelly’s Guide To Going Green With Baby. I’ve blogged before about what a complete guide it is to being an eco-friendly eco-mom. Now you can get a signed copy of the book, meet Melissa in person (she’s really great), and enter for a chance to win a $400 stroller from Baby Planet. Here’s the full scoop:
Itsabelly’s How to Choose Safe Baby Products Event
Saturday, June 13th at 11:00 am
Barnes & Noble Tanasbourne, 18300 NW Evergreen Parkway, Beaverton
Local author Melissa Moog, author of Itsabelly’s Guide to Going Green with Baby will offer simple and practical Baby Safe Tips including:
* Shopping tips & reviews on safe & eco-friendly baby products
* How to go green without breaking the bank
* Tips about organic and natural family living
Raffle drawing for $500 in eco-friendly baby products (Stroller System, Earth Mama Angel Baby Gift etc.)
Refreshments provided by New Seasons.
Be sure to stop by one of Onda Gallery’s two Portland locations during the month of May. They’re celebrating World Fair Trade Day (Saturday May 9th) for a full month by exhibiting sustainable art and serving free fair trade coffee all month, May 8-30th.
Onda Gallery is the only gallery in the Portland area dedicated to fair trade. All their gift items come from the hands of artisans protected by the principles of fair labor laws, safe working conditions, preservation of their cultural identity and self empowerment. Onda’s art comes from Ecuador, Chile, Colombia, Argentina, Nicaragua and Peru.
Also, watch for a posting in a few days about how you can save big by celebrating World Fair Trade Day with Bambootique.
Twice a year I voluntarily turn my house topsy-turvy. The toddler toys are scooped up and replaced with tables and racks of Bambootique‘s best. Pretty spring purses, soft cotton scarves, hip messenger bags, glittery beads, delicious fair trade snacks and more all help transform my home into a global shopping bazaar. Each time I wonder “will anyone come?” and every time the crowds of happy shoppers swoop in. Last Saturday over 50 of you came and it was so much fun!
Thanks to each of you who came to support fair trade and pick out great gifts for yourselves and people you love! Thanks also to the vendors who donated snacks and drinks for us to enjoy – Strictly Organic Coffee, Numi Tea, Slo Chai, Theo chocolate, and Honest Tea and also to Food Front Cooperative Grocery who gave our first 25 shoppers free reusable cloth shopping bags. Thanks also to my mom who baked mouth-watering fair trade chocolate chip cookies we all enjoyed! Thanks to my wonderful helper friends – Katie, Karin, Lorie, Megan, Karen, Mary Lee, Connie and Kristin. And finally thanks to my husband Steve and daughter Grace for putting up with it!
Do you want to make sure you don’ t miss the next trunk show? It will be in November 2009. Contact me to be added to the invite list!
Earth Day is Wednesday April 22nd, but lots of folks will be celebrating our planet this weekend at all kinds of events across the globe.
If you’re here in Portland, head on over to Bambootique’s Spring Trunk Show and Inventory Clearance, all day Saturday (10am-4pm). You’ll find a huge array of fair trade products, all as good for the planet as they are for people. You’ll find bags made from bamboo, jewelry made from recycled soda cans, handmade paper journals, candles made from vegetable waxes and dyes, plus hundreds of other purses, jewelry items, soft toys, and more, all made by hand which means a very low carbon footprint.
What: Bambootique’s Spring Trunk Show and Inventory Clearance (10-75% off throughout)
When: Saturday April 18th, 10am-4pm (open house – drop in anytime)
Where: My home in Tualatin, OR. Email me for address/ directions or call 503-781-3244.
Who: You and all your friends, family, anyone you’d like to bring to shop fair trade!
Oh, and did I mention free chocolate chip cookies, homemade by my mom with fair trade chocolate chips?
“Dark. Rich. Beautiful. Delicious.”
Response to a bar of chocolate perhaps? Nope, those are the words uttered by my coffee-loving husband as he ground fresh beans from Strictly Organic Coffee for our morning brew. We’ve been sampling a different roast each morning for the past week and we’re in coffee bliss. As I type I’m enjoying a deep, dark cup of Ethiopian Harar, one of my all-time-favorite varieties of coffee and especially exquisite from Strictly Organic. We’ve also loved their Organic Papau New Guinea blend and Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. Each type is perfectly roasted and I have to admit to even snacking on a few plain beans. They’re that good.
Strictly Organic roasts 100% organic, 100% fair trade certified beans at their roatery in beautiful Bend, Oregon. They have a great little cafe as well as delivering their freshly roasted beans by bicycle to various retailers and restaurants around Bend. The company reminds me of a central Oregon version of Portland’s favorite coffee roaster, Stumptown. Besides all the good things listed above, the company also pays health insurance to all employees.
Strictly Organic sent me the samples I’ve been trying for the past week and they’re sending up sample bags for EVERYONE who attends Bambootique’s Spring Trunk Show and Inventory Clearance next Saturday (April 18th). Other great fair trade products on sample will include Theo chocolate, SLO Vanilla Chai Latte, Noble Coffee and Numi teas. I hope to see you there!
Twice a year I open up my home for a Bambootique Trunk Show, where all Bambootique products are available for purchase in person and, for the first time, it’s ALL on sale.
If you haven’t come before, why not make this year the first? I have overstock from Christmas I need to move plus with the way the economy is, we’re all looking for a deal. Everything will be 10-75% off web prices. On top of that, I’ll have dozens of new products and trunk show exclusive products not available online. Like what you say? Gypsy bags from Honduras, woven baskets from Rwanda, and finger puppets from Peru to name a few.
It will also be your chance to grab one of our brand-new messenger bags from South Africa. These babies are literally flying out the door and I’m afraid there may be a waiting list soon. A new shipment is (fingers crossed) arriving from South Africa just days before the trunk show. If a messenger bag is on your trunk show shopping list, I advise you to arrive early.
The trunk show is not just a chance to shop, although a lot of shopping will go on. It’s a great social event and a chance to introduce your friends and family to the world of fair trade, even beyond Bambootique. Everyone will get a free sample bag of Strictly Organic Coffee (roasted in Bend, Oregon) and I’ll have samples of Theo chocolate, not to mention my mom’s popular fair trade chocolate chip cookies, fresh-brewed fair trade coffee and organic Numi teas. Wear comfy shoes, grab your best girlfriends, and drop on by!
Mark your calendar!
What: Bambootique Spring Trunk Show and Inventory Clearance (10-75% off)
When: Saturday April 18th, 10am-4pm
Where: Bambootique Founder Beth Sethi’s home in Tualatin, Oregon. Email me for the address (I prefer not to post it online, but everyone is welcome!)
Why: Because shopping is so much more fun in person than online, especially when it’s all on sale! If you don’t come April 18th you’ll have to wait for (gasp) the Christmas trunk show.
I’m still recovering from the annual Fair Trade Federation conference I attended this weekend here in Portland. My head was spinning so fast when I came home the second night, I had to do a 20-minutes brain dump onto a piece of notebook paper just to get myself to sleep! The conference was a priceless opportunity for me as a fair trade business owner to interact with hundreds of similar companies. Since we’re a rare breed us fair trade companies, the networking, wisdom and experience were invaluable.
I get dizzy when I think about it too much but here are just a few nuggets that were most interesting to me:
- In this down economy, consumers are looking to make a bigger impact with the dollars they do decide to spend. Fair trade has caught their eye and many fair trade companies (Bambootique included) are feeling somewhat less of a pinch than many conventional companies.
- 70% of consumers today seriously look for social and/ or environmental good from companies they buy from.
- Bambootique is somewhat unique in the fair trade world in that I have chosen to be an importer (work directly with artisan groups), a retailer (sell directly to customers) as well as a wholesaler (sell to small shops to resell to their customers). Most fair trade companies are either a wholesaler or a retailer, but for various reasons few are both. Being so many things to so many people has its own set of challenges as well as benefits. No wonder I’m so tired all the time.
- Wonderful, unique fair trade shops exist from coast to coast across the US. Look for one in your area on the FTF’s website!
- Even more exciting is that courageous entrepreneurs are opening new fair trade shops even in this economic downturn, and they are achieving financial success.
Despite all the dizzying details and ideas that left my head fuzzy, the number one takeaway for me from the conference was one of inspiration. There were companies represented that have been in business for several decades and others for only a few months. The common thread we all shared is a driving passion to change the economic landscape in our world from the grassroots up. We believe business has the power to do good. We believe it must. And we are proving it every single day.
Portland’s daily newspaper, The Oregonian, featured Bambootique today as an example of a “green company” that supports the planet and people. I love that columnist Shelby Wood, who reports regularly on environmental sustainability issues, is on to the reality that we have to protect people as much as we protect the earth. When she interviewed me I told Shelby how it bugs me to see products labeled as “green” or “sustainable” that were likely made in a sweatshop. For example, just because organic cotton is used in a pair of kids pajamas does not mean the people who picked the cotton or who sew the pajamas in China were paid a fair price. Looking for the fair trade label is the only way to be sure.
True sustainability requires conscious consumers to look for ethically traded and responsibly made products. Shelby points out some great resources to do just that, including next weekend’s Fair Trade Federation Conference and Expo to be held right here in Portland. The Expo is free and open to the public, and will feature more than 40 fair trade vendors from around the country, including Bambootique of course.
Fair Trade Federation Expo
Saturday March 28, 3:30-6pm
Doubletree Hotel, Lloyd Center, Portland, Oregon