THE SPRING CLEAN BOX

No matter where you are in the world, the opening of tiny new buds in spring suggests a chance to start fresh. We hope the items in this month’s box help you to invite a sense of spaciousness into the home in which to nurture whatever fragile, fledgling life you find winking and hopeful beneath the pile of last year.

What's Inside?

HANGING WALL ORGANIZER FROM PERU

In the Sacred Valley of the Peruvian Andes, the village of Wanchaq receives a steady stream of tourists, yet disabled residents of the region find themselves cut off from this line of income, and from society in general.

Unable to use his feet, artisan Freddy Flores sews with one hand and moves the sewing machine pedal with the other. Freddy is a member of ASWAN, an organization dedicated to promoting education, entrepreneurship, and social integration among the disabled of the region. Membership allows Freddy and his fellow artisans the opportunity to exchange ideas and to teach each other new skills.

In the future, ASWAN envisions establishing a rehabilitation center for disabled persons, which would be the first of its kind in the country.

Suggested use: Offer some reprieve to that over-flowing drawer, or cluttered counter top. Fill with kitchen gadgets, gardening tools, toiletries, or office supplies.

SCRUB CLOTH SET FROM INDIA

In the shanty town of Nababpur, men make less than $3 a day, and often squander their earnings. Their wives, expected to stay at home, have few opportunities to take control over their family’s well-being.

Meanwhile, in the States, Anna Marie Strauss is inspired by two things: empowering women culturally bound to the home—and her in-law’s handmade “toockie” dish cloths, which outperform their disposable counterparts in scrubbing prowess, longevity (wash and re-use!), eco-friendliness, and hygiene.

Ever since Strauss partnered up with local leader Jaya Basu to create a Toockie knitting co-op, these dish cloths have also been granting women like Ayesa the gift of autonomy. Considered “undesirable” after her divorce, working with Toockies has enabled Ayesa to take advantage of her independence and emerge as a leader in the community.

Suggested use: For light to heavy-duty scrubbing (jute cloth especially) in the kitchen. Or, for exfoliation and increased circulation in the bath.

SURFACE CLEANER FROM GHANA/INDIA

It feels good to make the eco-friendly choice off the cleaning product shelf, but it can feel not so good to discover the old toxic ingredients did a better job. The makers of your new surface cleaner are on a mission to ensure that’s not the case.

Pioneers in the Fair Trade movement, Traidcraft blends palm and coconut oil to create a fierce cleaning product that is nonetheless biodegradable and hypoallergenic, and that supports the existence of subsistence farmers in Ghana and India.

The palm and coconut oil responsible for this natural cleaning alchemy are sourced from small-scale farming alliances in Ghana and India, respectively. In India, Fair Trade Kerala, or FTAK, pays its farmers reliable rates for their crops, shielding them from market fluctuations. For one such farmer, Thomas, this has meant stability for his family, including the ability to educate his three children.

Suggested use: Spray and scrub!

KITCHEN TOWEL FROM TURKEY

Historically, the town of Buldan, where your towel was woven, has boasted production of the finest hand-loomed cottons in Turkey. In the Ottoman period, resident weavers were tasked with weaving the outfits of sultans. Even today, almost every household contains a loom.

Traditionally, only men work at the hand looms, while women create the towels’ fringes, yet Hatice is a rare case of a woman who has mastered the craft. She is 36 years old and supports her family with the money earned through her trade.

Hatice is a member of Atlas, a growing organization of weaving families in Buldan. Membership with Atlas enables weavers to earn a living while keeping a deep cultural tradition alive and sharing it with the world—and with your kitchen!

Suggested use: Polish off those dripping dishes and call it a night.

UPCYCLED CONTAINTER FROM CAMBODIA

Ridiculed by her classmates for her inability to hear or speak, Chea Saron left primary school after just a few months, and was 18 before she learned to read, write, and speak sign language.

Having grown up on the outskirts of Phnom Penh where her family earned a living weaving doormats out of scrap fabric salvaged from garment factories, Chea went on to pursue formal training in sewing.

By 24 she was working as a full-fledged artisan with Peace Handicrafts, whose award-winning products are made from local hand-woven silks and recycled materials. Established in 2002, Peace Handicrafts provides training and employment opportunities to landmine victims, disabled persons, and the deaf.

Suggested use: Clear up that cabinet under the sink or shelf in the garage by consolidating all your cleaning materials into this bright vessel. Or, use as an indoor planter to bring some spring into the home!

*Will be included instead of basket.

PALM LEAF BASKET FROM MEXICO

For the people of the Mixteca region of Mexico, basket-weaving is a way of life that also sustains life. With a dexterity passed down through generations, ancestry come to life in the tireless work of fingers, the weavers weave palms into vibrant, multi-colored baskets. On the outskirts of Oaxaca City, Doña Martina Garcia and her group of eight artisan basket weavers produce roughly 700 baskets per month.

For each artisan involved, basket-weaving means a stable monthly income used for building a house, starting a small business, or purchasing food and medicine. For Doña Martina (pictured left), her steady sales through GlobeIn have meant being able to spend more time at home, where she can work on her baskets while taking care of her children. Recently, she sold her stall in the Oaxaca Crafts Market, where she had been selling for ten years, and has dedicated herself and her small team to working entirely for GlobeIn.