Do you often put paper around your neck? Do you keep your money and I.D. cards in the newspaper? What about your flowers in a magazine? Believe it or not, Fair Trade artisans often use the paper products we would throw away to do these very things. The Fair Trade movement is very green and also very innovative. From agriculture to packaging the Fair Trade standards hold true to their eco-friendly values and they've taken some creative avenues to do it. Many Fair Trade products are made from recycled materials, and this includes paper. Typically paper is used for books and fliers and little else, but in the Fair Trade culture paper has the potential to be much more!
Many are already familiar with the paper jewelry that comes out of Africa. Strips of paper are wrapped tightly into beads creating colorful necklaces and bracelets, like these ones from Global Good Partners. Creating these necklaces provides a source of income for many African women supporting children on their own, and sometimes even struggling with HIV/AIDs. There are many Fair Trade companies that sell this from different parts of Africa, and they are one of the many products The Welcome Mat is proud to sell.
Serrv is a company that has some particularly unique paper products especially in terms of home decor. These vases, bowls, and table runners are unlike any you've ever seen. Many of their paper products are made by Get Paper Industry, a 125 person cooperative in Kathmandu. In addition to recycling paper, this organization also uses old cotton rags and natural fiber from banana plants and corn husks.
Not all paper comes from trees, and in fact it's probably better if it doesn't. To prevent further deforestation there are different kinds of paper that can be made. The Fair Trading Company takes this to another level with their elephant dung products. This line of notebooks and stationary sets are safe and hygienic. The raw material is boiled and disinfected, washing away all excrement but the plant fibers left behind. It's these fibers that are turned into beautiful and useful paper.
This kind of innovation comes from not just the mind but from the heart. People in countries all over the world are using their talents, and whatever resources they have available to them to create beautiful and practical products that are both ethical and eco-friendly. The more we support groups like these and their entrepreneurial pursuits, the more we establish a new standard within our own economy, and our own culture. Just like the paper that has been made into something new, so our society can be made into something new in a very beneficial way.