Part of the reason I love to buy handmade items is because I am very concerned with the conditions in which the things I buy are made. I've bought some great stuff from fellow Etsy sellers, and plan to do much more shopping there in the future (Christmas is almost here!)
That said, sometimes you need something that you can't find on Etsy, like shoes (If you're reading this and you sell shoes on etsy, please let me know, I would love to check out your shop!) So, I spend a lot of time surfing around the internet looking for socially conscious products that are made in decent working conditions, usually fair trade or union-made items.
A lot of people ask why I think this is important- don't underpaid sweatshop workers need jobs too? My reasoning is that if I have a certain amount of money to spend, and I use it to support a company that treats their workers fairly, that company will be able to expand and hire more workers who will make a good wage and be treated fairly. If everybody bought from socially responsible companies, the exploitative ones would be out of business, and more people would have good jobs.
Anyway, enough soapbox for now. My real purpose for this post is to tell about my wonderful new fair trade shoe discovery. While surfing around on the internet, I came across TOMS Shoes. They make simple fabric slip on shoes in lots of different colors and patterns. TOMS are made in sweatshop-free conditions, and for every pair of shoes you buy, they give one to a child who needs them. I got myself a pair of black corduroy ones, and I'm very pleased with them- they're lightweight and very comfy- they fit snugly around your foot like a sock (they say if you want to wear socks with them order them a little bigger than your shoe size) I think they're really cute too!