In 2020, as Coronavirus spread across the globe, many artisans in Bethlehem had their livelihood threatened, causing a wave of fear in surrounding communities. One artisan explained how many wondered how they would continue to adequately provide for their families and receive enough work to keep their shops open. With an economy that centers around tourism, as travel restrictions began to take place, artisans did not have enough work to feel confident about the future.
Artisan from Holy Land Handicraft Cooperative Society
During this time, we worked with dozens of small, family-owned workshops to bring handmade wood items to our conscious customers.
The orders placed through Ethik in Bethlehem during 2020 were the largest international orders they had ever seen. For many, it was a miracle and provided relief in the midst of an economic downturn.
“It was as if it was an order from the sky,” one of the artisans we worked with explained.
“It was as if it was an order from the sky”
Though a common sentiment seemed to be that this order emerged from the clouds—by all appearances, out of nowhere, allowing many families to experience peace in the midst of turmoil, the truth is: the orders placed required very real and tangible efforts from conscious companies who chose to source more sustainable and ethical products from over 118 artisans, totaling approximately 1,361 fair pay work hours.
Artisans from Holy Land Handicraft Cooperative Society
Though travel restrictions are beginning to lift, research supports that tourism alone does not create a stable market, and often fluctuates with the season, leading to unreliable cash flow within the home and often earning artisans very little.
Becoming aware of the impact of our purchases intimately affects the people we share a planet with. This is evidenced by the artisans in Bethlehem extending gratitude for fair and just work that has provided them with increased stability—a stability made possible by small adjustments made at a few companies to be more intentional about the products they sourced.
As an Ethik team, we urge companies to engage in this process of ethical sourcing by looking at their purchasing needs and choosing products and materials that provide opportunity, dignity, and safety for people involved in their formation throughout the supply chain.
Ethical sourcing provides companies with the opportunity for authentic, embedded impact that occurs while business is happening, naturally growing as the company does.
As we have engaged in this process ourselves, we have learned that orders do not merely come from the sky, they come from people who choose to be more conscious about what they purchase.