Celebrating Sustainability

The artisans we work with at Ten Thousand Villages 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.

Product Materials

There’s nothing we love more than an opportunity to tell you how innovative the artisans we work with are.

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.

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.

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 FabricUpcycled Sari Fabric –

From dainty earrings to sturdy furniture, we are continually amazed at the variety of products artisans working in India and Bangladesh have developed using upcycled silk and cotton sari 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 PlasticUpcycled 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.

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.

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 MetalUpcycled 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 ProcessesEco-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 use recycled paper bags in our stores instead of plastic, and we make an effort to keep our labels and product packaging as minimal as possible.

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.



Maddie Murphy

Madeleine lives in Lancaster, PA, where she hopes to stay forever if possible. Most of the time she’s reading, drawing silly cartoons, and figuring out how to be an adult, but occasionally, you might see her outside riding a bike. She’s also enthusiastic about sustainable food systems and has been vegan for a couple of years. Despite everyone’s predictions, it hasn’t killed her yet!

No Comments Yet

Comments are closed

Mosaic brings you stories that help you make fair trade and global culture part of your style, home and life.