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Fair Trade, Eco and Ethical

Sustainable Raw Materials

Seagrass, Vietnam
One of our main objectives is to ensure that we use as many sustainable raw materials as possible.

Recycled and sustainable products are the basis of our product range. We have always used as many recycled materials as possible, and consider the impact on the planet when choosing and developing new products.

The energy consumed in the manufacture of handicrafts is very low, often nonexistent, meaning they have a negligible carbon footprint. This is even more so because of the raw materials used, which are usually locally sourced, and Shared Earth is doing its best to ensure we choose the most sustainable options.
Kaisa grass (a variety of ‘sweetgrass’) is a sturdy wild grass which grows by the river banks in Bangladesh and is versatile enough to make baskets of all sizes and shapes – a totally sustainable product which takes no land away from crops and provides an extra income for rural families. Another variety of sweetgrass our artisans use is hogla grass, which looks a bit like our UK bullrushes.
Our suppliers in Vietnam use seagrass, which helps to balance saline soil, reduce subsidence, and protect against floods and high tides. Seagrasses form valuable marine eco systems, an important habitat for crabs, sea cucumbers, seahorses and fin fish. They cover only 0.1% of the ocean’s surface, but provide a staggering 18% of its carbon storage; we need to protect them, and using them for handicrafts is a great way of doing this.
Bamboo is easy and fast to grow – up to 3 feet each day – and it produces 35% more oxygen than other trees; one hectare can absorb as much as 12 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year. Our bamboo chimes, bee houses and other products come from Bali, where bamboo is a traditional crop and has a religious significance, many villages having had their own small plantations for centuries. They’re managed by the village, grown without any pesticides, harvested communally each year, and used for building, cooking and crafts, with any profits shared amongst the community.
We also use bamboo to make socks, in India. It’s an excellent alternative to cotton, which we are trying to use less as a raw material. It’s said to be the world’s ‘dirtiest’ crop, using 6% of the world’s pesticides, and 25% of the world’s insecticides. It requires about 3 times the water needed for bamboo, which in drought-prone countries like India is a huge drawback. It takes up a lot of land (10 times the amount needed for bamboo), and causes soil erosion and degradation; huge areas of the world are now barren and unusable because of irresponsible cotton farming. Organic cotton avoids this, but still requires excessive energy and water to produce.
Hogla grass, Bangladesh
Hogla grass, Bangladesh
Bamboo, Bali
Bamboo, Bali
Coconut, Bali
Coconut, Bali
A recent trend, to avoid plastic, has been ‘bamboo cups’. However these include 15-20% melamine, a plastic, so claims that they are biodegradable or compostable are untrue. Our cups are made from rice husks and are 100% plastic-free.
Hemp is an alternative to cotton which is growing in popularity. It requires hardly any water, energy, pesticides or fertilisers. It doesn’t exhaust the soil, and provides twice as much fibre per acre than cotton. See our range of cleaning products made from plant materials, including loofahs, a sustainable and effective cleaning product, 100% plastic-free.
Other eco alternatives we use include banana fibre, rice straw, water hyacinth and palm leaf.
One of our most popular ranges is jute bags. Jute has a minimal carbon footprint, it reduces water consumption, it’s biodegradable, uses hardly any fertiliser and pesticides, and there’s very little pollution in manufacturing. Every part of the plant is used, with the leaves cooked as a vegetable, and any remaining material used as fuel or building material.
Finally of course, let’s not forget recycled. Whether it’s saris, glass, metal or plastic, recycling means that no new raw material is adding to the burden we put on our planet. ‘Recycle’ is not as eco-friendly as ‘Reduce’ or ‘Re-use’, but recycling still saves natural resources, and it also sends a message – look after our planet! We have the widest selection of recycled products of any distributor in Europe.
Created On  20 Apr 2023 9:45  -  >>


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