Green gifts benefit the earth, people in need

December 10, 2010 (CHICAGO)

They are gifts that both help the earth and benefit people in need around the world.

If you're planning to put a sweater under the tree for your dad or maybe get a handbag for your sister, why not buy one that also helps provide an education for a child in Africa or fights human trafficking in southeast Asia? You can if you buy fair trade and shop green.

At the Ten Thousand Villages store in Oak Park, you can find items ranging from practical, like hats and sweaters - to whimsical, like picture frames made from bike chains and dolls fashioned from dried orange peels.

All of the items have two things in common: they are hand-made and fair trade. That means the artisans in developing countries who make the products are paid a living wage.

"We're able to pay those artisans enough money so they can send their kids to school, put food on their table and put a roof over their head," said Clare Leavitt, manager, Ten Thousand Villages.

At the Fair Trader in Hyde Park, you can find one-of-a-kind items made in countries like Haiti, Ghana, and Costa Rica. The store's three co-owners are proud to say none of their wares are made in sweatshops.

"There's no child labor involved. If it's made with a kind of machine like a sewing machine or something like that, it's made in a community work room or even someone's home," said Cindy Pardo, co-owner, The Fair Trader.

On the city's North Side, you can find an emporium of choices at the Andersonville Galleria.

"We have about 100 different small businesses here. So everything from art, photography, some fair trade businesses, some antiques, a lot of jewelry, home decor," said Holly Elzinga, manager, Andersonville Galleria.

The variety seems endless. Lia Valerio offers handbags and purses made from recycled feed bags and silk from southeast Asia. The company also has a social mission.

"We work with producer groups in Cambodia that are dedicated to helping marginalized populations of women there," said Valerio," and as a company, we donate back to an organization that fights child trafficking."

Bright Hope
2060 Stonington, Hoffman Estates

Greenheart Shop
1911 W. Division St., Chicago

Andersonville Galleria (various Fair Trade business located here)
5247 N. Clark, Chicago

Global Handmade Hope
428 W. Touhy Ave., Park Ridge

Malia Designs

Maya Essence
4357 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago

Ten Thousand Villages- Evanston
719 Main Street, Evanston

Ten Thousand Villages - Glen Ellyn
499C Pennsylvania Avenue, Glen Ellyn
(630) 790-1166

Ten Thousand Villages - Oak Park
121 N. Marion, Oak Park

The Fair Trader
1623 E. 55th Street, Chicago

Beeline Urban Honey and Spa Products

Dreambean Candles

WomanCraft - Handmade Recycled Paper

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