Maren Anderson from Global Awakening

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I’ve been meaning to start interviewing local greenies for a while, and what better time than the present. Next week, Green Drinks Charleston will be holding its holiday meetup at Global Awakening, a newly opened fair trade shop on King Street. I’d chatted a few times with Global Awakening’s owner Maren Anderson, and thought an interview might give the shop some promotion while providing you with some useful info. So here’s our email exchange…enjoy!

GGC: First off, what is Global Awakening?
Maren: Global Awakening is a socially responsible marketplace. The store mainly encompasses fair trade hand crafted products from developing third world countries, however we also offer an array of environmentally friendly products made in the US and beyond. That being said the shop on Upper King aims to provide a cultural experience with unique home decor, gifts that keep giving, and plenty of education on how every little bit does count and CAN make a difference.

GGC: When did you decide that Charleston needed a fair trade market?
Maren: While teaching third grade in North Charleston I constantly referenced my travels and experiences in different countries. I would use the examples to help eliminate greed, jealousy, and taking for granted what resources we had in the classroom each day. After many conversations that enlightened third graders I thought everyone could benefit from a more global view…and so Global Awakening was born.

GGC: What has the reaction been to your store opening?
Maren: The best reaction was “WOW everything in the store is a conversation piece!” In the two months the store has been open I have had some of the most dynamic conversations and learned so much about other people’s travels and experiences. Just when you think you are doing good by supporting fair trade you learn that this sweet lady buying an onyx candle operates a non-profit promoting social justice all around the world. MORAL-Never underestimate anyone!

GGC: Can you tell us an amazing story about one of the products you sell?
Maren: Everything actually. Ok we’ll go with the Klick bracelets–hand etched bangles made of recycled PVC piping in Namibia, Africa. The arisans call them klicks due to the word bracelet “epatek” which is pronounced with a clicking sound due to their dialect. The handmade bracelets also click when you put them on so it all ties together!

GGC: The stuff you sell is definitely world-friendly, but how is it eco-friendly?
Maren: Most of the fair trade products are made from recycled goods. A purse handwoven with recycled foil bags, bracelets from recycled telephone wire, picture frames from recycled newspaper, ornaments from recycled coke bottles and the list goes on! I also carry reusable shopping bags, organic cotton clothing, soy based candles and again the list goes on!

GGC: How do you reconcile importing goods from around the world with the green movement’s mantra of “buying locally”?
Maren: OK, so you shop locally at Global Awakening on King Street. Your dollars support a local business (not a corporation) which is supporting other local artisans around the world (keeping them local, and paying them fairly). Each purchase helps keep the cooperatives up and running in poverty stricken regions. The coops provide income which then helps local communities around the world. So the way to look at it is shop locally HELP globally! On a side note – Global Awakening also features a different local Charleston artist each month with a gallery wall dedicated to their talents. We also currently carry gRAWnola made locally and we are looking into local organic skin care products.

GGC: What are you doing to minimize your store’s impact on the environment?
Maren: Great question. Global Awakening recycles everything–we even have a recycling center in the store for customer use. We save all packaging that our products are shipped in and then reuse the packaging for daily purchases. As for the big boxes that everything arrives in….I take biweekly runs to the recycling center after breaking all the boxes down. At this point cardboard is not picked up with regular recycling. I’m not sure if other store owners know this or how they deal with daily cardboard excess. This is an issue I intend to address and hope to see a change in the city.

GGC: What do you think about the current state of the green movement in Charleston?
Maren: It is growing! I feel that opening the store has opened my eyes to all that is already occurring in our beautiful city. I do feel that many people just don’t know how to get involved. They don’t know what is going on or how to be a part of the movement. I hope to use the storefront as a community bulletin board so that people can stop in, know what is going on and easily get involved!

GGC: Is there anything you’d like to promote while you have a captive audience?
Maren: “OUR waterway is not YOUR ashtray!” Comprende? Please put your butts where they belong. I hope to have bumper stickers made and available at the store soon. We are so fortunate to live in such a beautiful place…the little things you do can really make a difference.

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