Last week when we wrapped up the 31 Days of Making Purchases That Make a Difference series, I promised you that in the weeks to come I would continue to highlight companies, ministries and individuals who are helping us to change the way we shop by providing products support fair trade, ethical fashion, sustainable relationships, local artisans, communities, schools, families, men, women and children in need (phew! That was a mouthful :D But a good one!).

Alaffia Fair Trade

This week I’m highlighting a company I stumbled across while searching for a “low-poo” shampoo (if you’re wondering what the heck that is, check out my “no shampoo” for newbies post. There will be an update on where I’m at with that in the near future!). I was scouring the aisle of organic shampoo at Whole Foods and this bottle of Alaffia Neem & Shea Scalp Recovery Shampoo caught my attention.

Alaffia Neem & Shea Butter Shampoo

It’s not overly fancy or anything, but the ingredients drew me in first (I’m a big label reader, especially since coming to understand what some of the unpronounceables actually are). I was satisfied that the ingredients were pretty good, and then as I turned the bottle around, I noticed that they were also supporting bicycles for education.

Alaffia Bicycles for Education

Now, while donating bicycles for school children might not sound like that big of a deal, according to Alaffia, 95% of kids who receive bicycles stay in school.

According to UNICEF reports, over 90% of girls in rural areas of Togo (that’s between Benin and Ghana) drop out before finishing 6th grade. While there are many factors leading to this high dropout rate, the time spent walking to and from school is one of them. Many children in rural Togo walk 5-15 miles to school, making it impossible for them to have time to study. This is especially true for girls, who traditionally have more household chores than boys.

So far, bicycles have been distributed in over 40 villages meeting the criteria of being over 7 miles from the local school. All expenses are covered by the sale of retail Alaffia products – IE this shampoo!

Not only are you supporting these village children in continuing their education, you are also supporting the communities. Alaffia is committed to providing products from local co-ops by using indigenous resources.

As individuals who have the good fortune of education and experience, it is our moral duty to be conscious and aware of the situations of people who are less fortunate. By empowerment, we mean identifying what individuals and communities have at their disposal – resources, skills, knowledge, and traditions – and supporting or creating initiatives in which they can use these tools and resources within their means.

They also advocate for fair trade production – the workers are being paid a fair wage in the local context (this is important and something that too often gets lost in the argument for fair wages), provided equal employment opportunities, healthy and safe working conditions. (You can learn more about Alaffia’s practices on their Empowerment page).

Alaffia has a great product in the shampoo, and I’ve also purchased their Good bar soaps (exclusive to Whole Foods) for us to use.

Alaffia bar soaps

They last a long time and smell SOOOO lovely!

These are some of the other wonderful Alaffia products I’m excited to try out!

You can purchase their products on their website (free shipping on orders over $50, so get some friends together!) as well as at your local Whole Foods. Or, look for Alaffia products on Amazon.

Check out the other great projects Alaffia also supports through the sale of their products!