Finding the Fairest Souvenirs: How to Shop Responsibly

Fellow travellers, I have a weakness: I like to shop. Worse, when I travel, my addiction takes over. My Achilles heel is for local souvenirs, the more creative and original, the better. Among my finer purchases is a gorgeous green silk scarf bought in Vietnam, an unusual hand-carved mask from Belize that now hangs on my wall and a pair of small but colourful paintings I picked up in Peru.

The great part about buying handmade items like these is that they were all purchased directly from the artists who made them – an exceedingly rare interaction in an increasingly mass-produced world. Buying the items felt good to me, but best is that I know these local artists appreciated each sale as well.

Whether our purchases make a positive impact when we travel is unfortunately not always so clear. Yet in developing countries, where Western currency goes that much further, it’s a thought worth investigating. How can we be sure that our purchasing choices will ensure the well-being of locals and the environment? Are we supporting an industry that helps sustain the local economy? Do our penchants support a trade that values the labour, dignity and rights of all those it employs?

When it comes to buying the “fairest” souvenirs, being well informed can make a big difference. Responsible shopping means understanding what’s at stake with each penny traded with the goal to preserve the world’s heritage and resources.

Here then are a few points to consider to help ensure that our tourist dollars are well spent. I’d really encourage you to add some of your own.

Look Around for Local Crafts

From the hand-woven traditional textiles of Laos to the fine filigree jewellery available in Portugal or the eclectic wire sculptures sold along South Africa’s Garden Route, nothing compares in value to beautifully produced local handicrafts made by some of the world’s finest artists. After all, craft items make far better gifts than boring old t-shirts, and purchasing locally produced goods constitutes a viable source of income for local creative types the world over.

When you buy goods and handcrafts directly from the local producers, your money goes straight to the community and will help to preserve those traditional arts. Keep your eyes out at the smaller markets in rural areas for some of the best deals, or buy through specialty Fair Trade stores such as Global Exchange.

Get Goods Made from Sustainable Sources

We all know that poaching is wrong. Tourists who buy endangered animal furs have as much blood on their hands as the poachers themselves. Fortunately, butterflies do not look nice to me in a box. I’d never consider buying ivory, that barbaric and illegal trade that causes incredible agony and death to the most magnificent of creatures. I boycott buying furniture made from rare and endangered woods and always aim to buy products made from the finest renewable sources.

Enough said? Are you sure? Take a stroll down almost any tourist beach and you will likely see vendors selling coral or seashells. But, except in places where some invasive coral is harvested to preserve the native ecosystem, how many people know that the market for harvested coral is destroying the world’s ocean reefs and causing irreparable damage to underwater ecosystems? The colourful shells now sold as earrings and necklaces once contained living animals – creatures that are now dead because someone wanted pretty adornments. Please don’t encourage this trade.

Buy with a Conscience – Patronise Stores that Give Back

Another important way to ensure we spend our money responsibly is to purchase items that help to support the communities we visit. In the peaceful Xieng Khoang province of northeast Laos, for example, lies the cultural village of Ban Napia. Despite the countless atrocities they suffered as residents of the most heavily bombed region in the Indochina War, the villagers here are resilient and resourceful: aluminium scrap metal from leftover bombs is converted into delicate spoons and bracelets that are sold to tourists visiting the village-owned souvenir shop.

Around the world, of course, there are many other small stores that provide self-sustainable income to locals, whether through skills training or other means, and countless shops that contribute to worthy causes. Get online and ask around to find the best local charity shops and patronise businesses donating a percentage of profits to local community projects, environmental conservation or humanitarian assistance programs.

Consider an Item’s Trade Roots – and Think Outside the Factory-Made Box

Many infamous examples exist of products made by exploited workers, produced under dismal conditions for shockingly minuscule wages. The most high-profile cases that come to my mind are the Christmas ornaments that were made by child workers and sold at Walmart, the Nike shoe company’s questionable labour practices and the horrific abuse and involvement of the Koidu diamond mines in fuelling Sierra Leone’s bloody, decade-long civil war.

Unfortunately, such stories only come to light once a corporation’s underhanded practices become too egregious to ignore. Let’s face it: mass production has had a long history of labour violations, many of which we choose to ignore because we want our cheap dinner plates, children’s toys, cell phones and you name it.

Factory-made souvenir items such as magnets, key chains or t-shirts are often manufactured outside of the destinations they represent, and typically have little to no real connection to the places they are supposed to portray. I don’t know the industrial origins of the most common and obvious mass-market souvenir items, but knowing what we know already, how much do we really want them? How great could they really be?

Instead, why not hunt for more meaningful mementos? Vacations are the perfect time to get just a little bit more creative: think of items that are not merely souvenirs but are actually used in local households for decoration or day-to-day living. Need some ideas? Go ask a local. They’re bound to come up with some imaginative suggestions you may never have thought of on your own.

Tips to Distinguish Air Jordan Retro

As lovers of Air Jordan Shoes, we keep close eyes on the updates on it. Whenever there is any news or rumor about release of Air Jordan Shoes, we will try to make it clear and get one of them. Unfortunately, there are so many replicas or even fakes that some times we do not got what we have paid for. Therefore it is a must for us to know how to distinguish them from replicas. Taking Air Jordan Retro for example, there are several ways available.

Tip 1 – Attention for price
Generally speaking, price is not a very important factors since there is only a minus difference.But if the price is very low, you should be cautious as all newest released Nike Jordan Shoes have a regular official price. So there is almost no possibility for you to get a pair of them at a very low cost. The price of Air Jordan Retro is about $340, so if some on-line shop is selling them at no more than $300, you must be very cautious.

Tip 2 – Attention for boxes and accessories
The box of Jordan Shoes is well-printed and made from good materials. And they are hard and can not be formed easily and naturally. As for accessories, the authentic Air Jordan Retro is superior in terms of elasticity and softness while the replicas are disappointing.

Tip 3 – Attention for insole
Insole is one of the most important manners for distinguishing replicas and authentic ones. Generally, the letters on the insole are clear and concave-convex. In addition, every Nike Jordan Shoes has its unique insole. Air Jordan â…¤ Retro has maintained the characteristics of Air Jordan in terms of insole.

Tip 4 – Attention for odor
It is well-known that the moment you pen the box of Air Jordan shoes, there will be a strong and fresh flavor which is unique to Air Jordan Shoes. The reason is that Jordan Shoes has employed special glues. This is especially true when you buy the newest released Nike Jordan Shoes, because the newest release always have special glue odor while the replicas have a quite different smell as a result of different glue. Nike is also proud of it.

Tip 5 – Attention for feeling
For those who wear Jordan retro shoes often, the feeling is very efficient for you to describe the difference. Generally speaking, the authentic Air Jordan Shoes are soft and comfortable. The moment you fit you, you can tell them apart.

Tip 6 – Attention for “style code”
It is well-known that Nike Company has their unique “style code” standard. Take Nike SUPREMACY released in 2002 for example:

– Its origin place: made in china means the shoes are made in China rather than elsewhere.
– Its production date 021202 means it was made in 12/02/2002
– Factory No: LN3 means the shoes were made in this factory.
– The style No. composed of 9 digits is the key to distinguish authentic from fakes.

Take the style No. 305522-101 for example. We can separate the 9 digits into sections. The first section is 305522 and the other is 101. As for the first section, all style No. of Nike Series begins with 3 and the remaining 5 digits represent the series which the shoes belong to. All your attention, the “Style Code” of the first shoes is 02001 rather than 00001. The other section, consisted of 3 digits, contains information of colourways.

History of New Balance Athletic Shoes

New Balance Athletic Shoes, Inc. is an American footwear company based in Boston, Massachusetts. It began existence as New Balance Arch Support Company and exclusively sold arch supports and other shoe accessories. In the 1970’s New Balance expanded to include specialized shoe design. Today New Balance Athletic Shoes, Inc. includes the brands Dunham, PF Flyers, Aravon, Warrior and Brine.

New Balance Arch Support Company got its start in 1906 when William J. Riley, a 33 year old English immigrant to the States, set up shop in Boston, MA. The original company only sold accessories designed to make people’s shoes fit better. Arthur Hall joined the company in 1934. He is largely responsible for designing New Balance’s marketing strategy at that time, which was to advertise New Balance products to people whose jobs required them to spend long hours standing. According to the New Balance website, the company’s primary customers at that time were police officers and waiters who were desperate for orthopedic relief.

Although Riley’s daughter and son-in-law designed the first New Balance tennis shoe in 1961 (it was called the “Trackster”), New Balance did not enjoy success in the arena until the company switched hands to Jim Davis. The handover was well timed. The US was just about to launch into the jogging craze of the 1970s, and Boston was at the epicenter of the storm. In fact, Davis purchased New Balance on the day of the Boston Marathon in 1972.

Before Davis, New Balance consisted of six employees who made roughly 30 pairs of shoes a day. These were specialty shoes designed for customers with specific needs. Davis was able to expand the company while maintaining New Balance’s legacy of first rate service for its customers.

New Balance has experienced a lot of changes in the last few decades. The head of its operations is no longer a Bostonian but a Californian. New Balance factories were opened in England (to accommodate a growing European market) and later in China. But there are a few principles that New Balance tries to keep consistent. First, New Balance still maintains five factories in the United States – a rarity in these days of globalization and cheap labor overseas. Also, New Balance has a strict “Endorsed by No One ” policy that refuses to cater to the bankbooks of celebrity athletes. The company maintains that quality shoes do not need a celebrity spokesperson. In many ways, this is a consumer-friendly policy. After all, 5 dollars of every Nike shoe you buy goes straight into the pocket of Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods.