Hope Advocates for Sustainability (HAS) is an organization that works to promote sustainability at Hope College. On Wednesday, April 20, HAS partnered with The Bridge, a local non-profit located in downtown Holland, for an educational event at Hope about environmental justice and fair trade.
The Bridge is known for its fair trade gifts and crafts that represent over 35 countries. Fairtrade is about helping artisans in growing countries achieve sustainable and equitable trade relationships by valuing their rights and giving them fair pay for their work. Not only does it tremendously help the workers, but fair trade also guarantees high-quality and ethically sourced products for the shoppers.
Tsion Weldetsadik (‘24) recently became an intern for Hope Advocates for Sustainability. Weldetsadik is passionate about educating people about environmental justice and the issues that are happening around the world today. She hopes to teach people how to be more aware of environmental racism and the ways in which one can get more involved.
“I’ve always been interested in social issues and social justice and sustainability also intrigues me,” Weldetsadik said, “so when I came across this position, I was really excited to be a part of it.”
Kate Martin, manager of The Bridge, came to speak about the ways in which students at Hope can become more conscientious about their purchases, specifically with the clothes they are wearing. Both passionate and knowledgeable, Martin proposed a challenge of not only being a conscious shopper but actually making the choice to purchase more sustainable and ethically sourced products.
While choosing more sustainable and ethical clothing items might be more expensive, it makes an impact on more than one person’s life. Practical, less expensive ways one can be more conscientious is by thrifting clothes, rewearing, researching, and educating oneself about the ‘who’ behind the brand.
The Bridge offers a multitude of unique fair trade items that support the important cause of fair trade. The store sells products handcrafted by artisans from all over the world who use local resources, from stripped-down telephone wires to elephant dung.
Claire Heyne (‘25) attended the fair trade and environmental justice event on Wednesday. “I learned a lot that I honestly didn’t know anything about,” she admitted. “First of all, [Kate Martin] was very passionate about what she was doing and she knew what she was talking about,” Heyne said, “She obviously cared about fair trade and getting all these people fair wages for the things that they make.”
This passion resonated with Heyne, who admitted that she wasn’t sure at first how she felt about purchasing ethical clothing. “But as the event kept going on, I began to realize that it’s impacting a lot more people than just me, so I need to definitely look into what I’m going to be purchasing,” she expressed.
Something that really stood out to Heyne was a comment made about not buying something unless you know you will wear it at least thirty times. Heyne realized that she needs to become more aware of the items she is purchasing; where they come from and what they are supporting.
“Some of these things not only help get people better pay but help save lives,” Heyne said.
The Bridge is located on 8th Street and is mostly staffed by volunteers who are passionate about their products and the support they are providing to people all around the world. “It’s really cool that everything has a backstory too, and you can just pick it up and look at the label and see who made it and where it is from and all the cool history behind it,” Heyne explained.
Start to shop more sustainably and ethically:
- Download the app Good On You to become more aware of the brands you are supporting.
- Shop at The Bridge downtown to support artisans around the world.
- Thrift and rewear items of clothing.
- Follow Hope College Sustainability on Instagram for more opportunities like this event to get more involved @hopesustainability