You may be thinking that these two ideals are not in opposition but they can be.
If a core value of a company is to create job opportunities in the majority world, it might implement fair trade policies – despite the fact that this would create longer shipping distances during production and to their customers – which would increase their carbon footprint. If, on the other hand, the primary mandate of a company is to protect the environment, it will – among other things – gather their raw materials and produce their products in a small geographical area that is relatively close to their customers.
As we formed Blue Okra, we dreamed about all the good this company could do. We tossed around ideas and discussed our goals. We also talked about the difficulties of implementation and the risks like higher a price for our goods because putting these ideals into action is expensive.
We decided that it’s very important to us that Blue Okra does good, not just for our bottom line, but for the people who produce our products and for the environment.
In the end we had to choose. We wrestled with these seemingly oppositional goals and decided that for our first few products, we would keep all of our production in the US. That means buying US grown organic cotton fabric that have been woven or knit in the US and having our goods sewn here too.
In the future, when we have the resources (and the information) to do due diligence on overseas suppliers, we may expand into using foreign sources. Fair trade and fair labor concerns will be top-of-mind. For now, keeping all of the production of our goods in the US has additional benefits. It provides job opportunities for American workers and it allows us to more easily keep an eye on our supply chain and our quality.