Focusing on Transformative Trade: A Call to Action with Jonathan Rosenthal


We were grateful to be able to touch base with Jonathan Rosenthal after he spoke at this year's Fair Trade Federation's Annual Conference in Indianapolis. Jonathan has spent 30+ years working to transform business into a positive force for people and the environment. Jonathan was a cofounder and leader with the pioneering worker-owned fair trade company Equal Exchange. He also collaborated and cofounded the first US fair trade fruit company, Oké USA. Jonathan now consults on fair trade issues and is a principle at Just Works Consulting as well as the Executive Director of Coop Coffees.

You can download the interview in full here, or read it below: 

Ethix Merch: What was your experience at the 2014 Fair Trade Federation's Annual Conference held in Indianapolis? Can you reflect on your keynote speech and the roots of fair trade?

Jonathan Rosenthal of COOP Coffees, Keynote speaker at 2014 FTF Annual Conference, fair trade pioneerJonathan Rosenthal:  The FTF conference was a wonderful experience for me. I got to see some old friends like Bob Chase and Pushpika Freitas and meet many new fair traders, including some amazing young people—their sophistication, innovation and commitment renewed my faith in our capacity to create a more just world. 

One interesting thing for me was the experience of being with a largely artisan focused crowd as opposed to my usual coffee and food communities. The culture felt very different. While there is a similar passion in both, the coffee world is a bit hard edged, focused more on competing in a global food world and also aware of the ever changing biological reality of agricultural goods.

Also, the coffee world is more dominated by men, though fortunately there are more and more women emerging there as well. The artisan world is filled with strong women leaders and participants—very refreshing!

My keynote talk was originally inspired by an experience I had a few years ago with the TransFair USA (now Fair Trade USA or F-TUSA) website. When they started they told the story of fair trade starting in the 1940’s and moving up to include Equal Exchange, certification, and had a movement perspective. As they got more powerful I saw the history erased. Today, there is no mention of any history of fair trade, as though it was invented by F-TUSA.

My own spiritual tradition, Judaism, includes a powerful connection to understanding our own history, reflecting on it and continuing to learn from it. This erasing of history, including my own small role as a co-founder of Equal Exchange, I felt both as a personal and community erasure. Being cut off from history, I believe, creates an unhealthy hubris or sense of self-importance, pushes speed of action at all cost and removes much of the potential learning from our journey by removing the context. It also creates an urgency to solve problems that perhaps are not solvable. As I understood fair trade to be a simple tool that can become a way of life, I saw as an extension of the struggle for justice that has always been part of human communities.

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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rinse & Repeat.


earth hour, continue earth hour past 60 minutes, use your power,

Today more than ever, people are becoming more socially aware of how the products that we use every day are produced and manufactured; however you should also be aware of the environmental impacts as well.

"Greening" the Promotional Product Industry

At Ethix, we continually strive to expand our promotional product offering to include as many environmentally friendly promotional products as they become more readily available and manufactured in the United States of America.

Eco and green products are now becoming mainstream as opposed to the exception.

We will always advocate for conscious consumption and ethical consumerism. Our goal is to help educate consumers and manufactures about the benefits of manufacturing and purchasing products made by union workers and in the United States of America. We want you to know what you're purchasing and how it was produced so that you can make the most educated decision possible.

Did you know that you can save the planet while still getting your message out? Here are a few ideas to consider:

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Union Made Buttons, Pins, and Badges Galore!

USA Union Made custom badges, American made pins, Union Printed buttons


Your Source for Union Made Political Buttons and Badges

Buttons printed with a union bug make great promotional items for any political campaign that wants to extend its reach. In fact, union bug buttons are one of the most versatile promotional products on the market because they're truly one size fits all!

Unlike other wearable promotions, you need not worry about the "fit" of a button as everyone you're purchasing for will be able to wear them comfortably. You can use them to easily extend the messaging of your other election campaign supplies. 

Lapel Pin Options for Campaigns

From intricate die-struck lapel pins to more economical custom pins, we'll have just the right USA Made campaign pins to highlight your design and fit your budget.

Whether you're looking for the simplicity of delicately etched lapel pins or the vibrant color of digitally printed domed pins you'll find the perfect campaign pin style in our union made promotional pins line up.

Relevance of Customized Buttons

There's a rich history of celluloid buttons within activism, music scenes, and political campaigns. Any visitor to antique and thrift shops is bound to discover a treasure trove of these nostalgic momentos.

Union made political buttons can make an immediate, and significant impact. Whatever your message, whether it's needed just for a week or relevant for years, the return on your investment in domestically produced union bug pins and buttons is clear.

We find that buttons are often ordered in a hurry by our customers. Give us a heads up and we'll tell you what options are available in a pinch!

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Made in USA: Fakers and Frauds


Don't Fall For It! Get Only Genuine USA Made Promotional Products!

Unfortunately there are those in our industry looking to cash in on unsuspecting individuals in the market for American made promotional items. With a simple slight of hand - presto! - their imported silicone wristbands can be confused with those made in the USA as they are devoid of country of origin signifiers. 

We've worked with individuals looking to recover from a faux pas as their last order with another company turned out to use imports. We love new Ethix clients, we just feel bad when we know someone else from Custom Chotskies Inc. tried to sell them imprinted promotional merchandise that was NOT genuinely made and printed in the United States.

Find Authentic USA and Union Made Promotions

With the Made in USA movement continuing to build momentum (as it should!) there is an increased demand for American Made custom products and apparel. This growing demand also makes room for those looking to turn a unscrupulous profit off trusting individuals and organizations.

Blank products are stripped of their tags, stickers are removed, fake union bugs are added to screens, and stories are concocted for the inquisitive. We've seen this fraudulent behavior in print shops, other distributors, and from clients that came to Ethix after being "had" by one or the other.

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Be Mine! Organizations We Love (But Mostly Admire)


A Valentine Message to Our Tribe

This is our love letter to the organizations and individuals that work tirelessly to fight for human rights and dignity in domestic and international supply chains. Our hats are off to you! 

Better let my heart be without words, than my words without heart.

- John Bunyan

Our team of Merchant Adventurers lives by Bunyan's statement. We believe the work that we do, and the jobs that we support, makes a measurable and significant impact on the lives of workers and their families.

Our work, in conjunction with that of sweat free, labor, and eco-minded movements, directly aids in creating a positive shift in the United States (and across the globe) for worker rights.

Ethics and Missions We Align With

We offer an ever expanding list on our site of organizations dedicated to refining ethical standards. We work with these organizations on orders, awareness raising, and organizing for change for factory laborers and the garment industry. 

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Minimum Wage and Economic Opportunities, or Why We Sell USA and Union Made


minimum wage holding back workers, sweeping away economic stability, throwing away savings

Support a Living Wage to Further Economic Opportunity

At Ethix, together with our clients, we believe in using our purchasing power to support the best possible working conditions for factory workers (in the promotional products industry and beyond!).

One project we're very proud to be a part of is the first ever Union Made, living wage garment factory in Villa Altagracia, Dominican Republic:

Alta Gracia pays its workers enough to allow them to meet basic needs for themselves and their families, including nutritious food, drinkable water, housing and energy, clothing, health care, transportation, education and childcare, as well as modest funds for savings.

Receiving a wage that not only considers the depth of your work, but also considers your future is powerful. Wages that allow for savings, ownership, and self care are a dream for workers earning a minimum wage.

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Union Made Promotional Items: Our Platinum Standard


Why We Sell Union Made Promotional Merchandise

The organizations and groups that are drawn to our site and business model are either directly involved in the labor movement or are in favor of just, safe and equitable employment opportunities (shouldn't everyone be?!).  

We sell only the highest quality union made promotional items to unions, activists, concerned organizations, and businesses. The exchange between our clients and the unions that make our products is a prime example of solidarity purchasing at work. These exchanges show appreciation for the labor and processes that go into making each product. 

Promo Swag that Supports U.S. Labor

Our goal is to continually provide (and increase variety of) custom promotional merchandise that helps support labor, people, and the environment.

Union Made in the USA is our "platinum standard" and we work tirelessly to get our promotional merchandise orders filled by unionized factories and embellishment shops. We do, however, recognize that not every item our clients are interested in is available with a union label or printed at a union shop and our "gold standard" is Locally Made in the USA.

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Join Ethix and Help to Change the World One Project at a Time


We're Hiring! Know Anyone Who Should Join Our Team?

We are growing quickly and are looking forward to welcoming the right people to join our team. We are looking for passionate people to live out our values by supporting our expansion. Do you know anyone who would make a SUPER merchant adventurer? Let them know they should apply today! 

Here are the 5 job descriptions for the positions we are looking to fill.

No mystery...just click the link above to bring you straight to our Ethix Careers page and read more about each open position. Please share widely with your networks.

Working in the Ethix Office (Massachusetts)

What's it like to work at a socially responsible company? Here are some things I love about our office: 

  • We are located in an old New England mill- that was originally home to Fruit of the Loom 200 years ago!
  • Being in a mill means there's a great little pond and park across the street
  • Park your car steps away from the building- super convenient in the winter!
  • Stay fueled with tasty Dean's Beans fair trade coffee from our Keurig or Yerba Mate for the tea drinkers!
  • We have a substantial stockpile of T-shirts, in case someone ever needs one
  • Ruth, Melissa, Jill, Terri, and Kevin all have huge hearts and care a ton about their work and our mission (see our team)
  • Daniel, who is our "West Coast" office, shares the above characteristics, though we don't get to see him every day (just once a year for our annual company retreat)
  • Sometimes Kevin makes super tasty gluten free chocolate cookies in the toaster oven for everyone (at our Sutton office...sorry Daniel!)
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Awareness Months: A Great Tool to Promote your Organization


There are so many month-long awareness and fundraising causes promoted, and it's a great idea to use those Awareness Months to galvanize your own organization's fundraising and brand awareness efforts. You can find the cause or causes that work to support your organization's mission, and then use ethically produced promotional products to spread your message and mission far and wide.

Promotions during Awareness Months


We offer a wide range of customized promotional items that work as fundraising tools, including solidarity bracelets, button keepsakes, eye-catching T-shirts, and other wearables. There are so many awareness months now that it's hard to remember them all! So here's a handy comprehensive list of Awareness Months to help you out. Here's a summary of just some of the awareness months spreading the word for a range of deserving causes:

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Kicking off 2014 with Ethically Sourced Promotional Products


ethical promotional merchandise for the new year, USA made swag, giveaways with heart

Kick off the New Year with fresh, USA, and Union Made branded merchandise for your business or organization.

The beginning of the year comes with resolutions. Resolutions to lose weight, stop smoking, give more to philanthropic foundations, or to be an engaged conscious consumer.

We encourage our clients and prospective client to think about the impact your purchases make. Promotional products are traditionally made with the absolute bottom line in mind- pure profit turning. We aim to add heart and soul to the promotional products industry with the work we do here at Ethix.

Our clients depend on these items to speak for their brand and to help share you're all about. With some advanced planning and budgeting, you too can support ethically sourced items! Spread good will with USA and Union made promotional items for the upcoming year and make a lasting impression with responsibly sourced promotions.

Our hot new items for 2014 will be both ethical and eye-catching! Contact us today for your custom quote. 

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