Leti Bueno

Building An Ethical Lifestyle

Ethical Trade Stories: Leti B.

The principles of Catholic social teaching have shaped my life and my decisions.

My introduction to fair trade was through coffee and chocolate, which I imagine is the gateway for a lot of us. I was at a fair trade market at my parish and our social justice office explained why it’s important to support fair trade coffee even though I never had a cup of coffee in my life. It’s hard to believe, right? But it’s the truth (even though I grew up with coffee around me as my dad loves his coffee)! The first bag of coffee I ever purchased was a gift to him and made him a believer in the benefit of fair trade coffee and the higher quality taste that comes from it.

My parish continued their support of fair trade through their events, promoting ethically sourced coffee and coordinating markets for artisans. It interested me and I started connecting with different organizations that supported fair trade. I eventually volunteered with Ten Thousand Villages and became their storyteller. That allowed me to learn about the many fair trade groups out there and share that with consumers. After that, I went on to work with other ethical brands like Raven + Lily and Purse & Clutch that only deepened my commitment to support brands that change the lives of others.

How I Strive to Live Ethically

I live an ethical lifestyle in a few ways. First, I try to minimize my clothing purchases. To do this I have to ask myself if I need this item before I make a purchase. Also, I have trained myself to focus on needs versus wants. One thing that works great for me is that I tend to buy second hand clothing or go to clothing swaps. Lastly, if I do buy new, I look for ethical trade brands that last and look great. It’s essential to me that my purchases do not create struggle in the lives of someone else.

Catholic Social Teaching Shapes Me

The principles of Catholic social teaching have shaped my life and my decisions. Each principal: life and dignity of the human person; dignity of work and rights of workers; solidarity; rights and responsibilities; option for the poor and vulnerable; call to family; community and participation; care for creation – all of it brings me back to sustainable living. This is how my decisions are guided and help me live an ethical lifestyle.

Be easy on yourself

One thing I wish I knew before I started my ethical trade journey—to be easy on myself when I can’t follow a completely ethical lifestyle. It’s a slow build to creating a closet that supports the rights of workers and cares for creation and that’s okay. Starting small may seem insignificant to us but it is a big impact for the artisans we are supporting.

I don’t have a favorite ethical brand but do love groups like Global Mamas, Raven & Lily, Tonle and Matr Boomie. All are fun brands with great style and are 100% committed to their mission.

Leti B. is a frequent contributor to CRS Ethical Trade.