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Celebrating Sustainability

Celebrating Sustainability

Our artisan partners value sustainability, and we do, too. Although we’re always looking for ways we can improve in this area, we think the efforts toward sustainability we have underway are worth celebrating. Read on to learn some of the ways we implement sustainable practices across our organization.

map of eco-friendly materials

Product Materials

There’s nothing we love more than an opportunity to tell you about the innovations of our artisan partners.

Celebrating Sustainability | Sustainably harvested
Tagua nuts –

Artisans in Ecuador and Colombia harvest tagua nuts once they’ve fully matured and fallen off the tree. The nuts are carved and used as beads for jewelry.

Celebrating Sustainability | Sustainably harvested
Jacaranda wood –

The skillful carvers of Kichaka Poa in Kenya grow and sustainably harvest jacaranda wood. They use the wood to create whimsical home accents and serveware.

Celebrating Sustainability | Sustainably harvested
Palm oil

For their handmade soaps, Palam Rural Centre in India exclusively uses palm oil from local plantations that do not contribute to deforestation.

Celebrating Sustainability | Upcycled fabric
Upcycled Sari Fabric –

From dainty earrings to stuffed toys, we are continually amazed at the variety of products artisans working in India and Bangladesh have developed using upcycled silk and cotton sari fabric!

Celebrating Sustainability | Upcycled fabric
Upcycled Skirt Fabric –

Artisans working with our fair trade partner Ruth and Naomi in Guatemala merge tradition and innovation by using repurposed traditional hand-woven skirt fabric for their products.

Celebrating Sustainability | Upcycled glassPhoenician Glass –

By using recycled glass and a traditional glass blowing technique, the artisans working with Hebron Glass in West Bank are practicing sustainability and preserving an art form.

Celebrating Sustainability | Upcycled plastic
Upcycled Plastic Accents –

We don’t usually think of discarded plastic as beautiful, but weavers in Bangladesh have found a lovely new use for old plastic.

Celebrating Sustainability | Upcycled plastic
Upcycled Candy Wrappers –

Your backyard will look sweet with a few of these bright birdhouses constructed with sustainability in mind.

Celebrating Sustainability | Upcycled paper
Upcycled Newspaper –

It’s important to stay up-to-date on current events, but all that printing comes at an environmental cost. A wide variety of products are crafted out of upcycled newspaper by the artisans of the Highland Women’s Multipurpose Co-op in the Philippines.

Celebrating Sustainability | Upcycled paper
Upcycled Magazine and Poster Paper –

Artisans working with Mai Vietnamese Handicrafts keep magazine and poster paper out of landfills by using it to expertly craft bright and unique home décor items.

Handmade Paper –

In Bangladesh, artisans make handmade paper from silk that has been discarded by fabric mills and water hyacinth, an invasive weed collected from waterways.

Celebrating Sustainability | Upcycled metal
Upcycled 55-gallon drums –

Recycling metal to create imaginative wall hangings is a distinctly Haitian art form.

Upcycled Bicycle Parts –

From spokes to gears to chains, many bike parts have a chance at a new life in the hands of the artisans working with our fair trade partner Noah’s Ark in India.

Celebrating Sustainability | Alternative processes
Eco-leather –

The conventional tanning process for leather is notoriously hazardous. Instead of azo dyes, formaldehyde and other substances, eco-leather is tanned using materials derived from sustainable tea bark extracts and waxes.

Vegetable Dyes –

By using vegetable dye for their block print pieces, the artisans working with Asha Handcrafts Association in India practice a traditional art form while taking care of the environment.

Operational Practices

We also have some initiatives underway to minimize our organization’s footprint at our home office in Akron, PA.

Shipping –

In an effort to minimize the negative environmental impacts caused by the process of shipping from our artisans, we always attempt to consolidate orders within a given region into shared shipments. In most cases, the product packaging is completed in country, often using recycled paper and cardboard for the packing material, with the goal of minimizing the use of plastic in the process.

Packaging –

We make an effort to keep our labels and product packaging as minimal as possible. Our product tags are printed on 100% post-consumer paper, and we’re replacing plastic tag fasteners with a natural hemp string alternative. Our jewelry gift pouches and gift card sleeves are made from tree-free lokta paper by Get Paper in Nepal and feature a small bamboo stick closure. The kraft bags are made from 100% recycled kraft paper with a minimum of 60% post-consumer waste and are printed with water-based ink. If you’re looking for a reusable bag, we’ve got 100% GOTS certified organic cotton totes made at a Fair Trade Certified factory in California that you can bring back to the store to fill with handcrafted goodies again and again.

At our home office –

With our motion-sensor lighting and our moderately-competitive tracking of which department prints the least, we fancy ourselves to be a pretty thrifty group. We’ve got a Green Team to keep us in line, and we attempt to recycle as much as possible from small-scale items like our yogurt cups and cans of La Croix (don’t think we didn’t see that eye roll) to larger items such as cardboard, packing materials, and paper. We recycle some items through the Mennonite Central Committee’s Material Resources Center in Ephrata, PA. You’ll even spot a couple of stainless steel straws around the office!

We are continually on the lookout for ways we can improve our packaging, reduce our use of plastic, and implement greener operational practices. This is where we stand as an organization today, and we aim to do even better tomorrow.

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