Shopping to positively impact environment

CHICAGO It's "eco" because its products are kind to the earth, "fair trade" because it is committed to protecting the people who make those products.

Inside the Greenheart store on North LaSalle Street, is an eclectic collection of items gathered from around the globe. From pottery hand crafted in Vietnam to soccer balls made in Pakistan, the choices run the gamut.

Allison Havens, assistant manager at Greenheart said, "We really want to have great quality products that people want to buy. But we want that as well as we want something that will be contributing to the environment and to people around the world that are making the products."

In an age where child and slave labor can be commonplace, Greenheart says they only carry items considered fair trade. For products to be deemed fair trade, adults in developing countries must be paid a fair living wage, so they can afford education and health care. Strict social and environmental standards also must be upheld.

Recycling and re-use are also important elements in the product offerings. Some wallets are for sale that are made from newspapers. Belts and purses are fashioned from old truck tires. Store managers say they believe when consumers see gifts and personal items that are both beautiful and functional, they will choose to buy those that are made in a sustainable way.

"Greenheart is about allowing consumers to make positive social environmental changes in the world through their shopping choices," Havens explained.

The Greenheart store is part of a larger organization called the Center for Culture Interchange. It brings people from other countries to the U.S. for study. Americans can use vacation time to travel abroad and help with environmental projects.

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