Top Five - Helvetas' Fair Trade Eco Gifts

The products we showcase on TreeHugger often have a North American bias. To redress the balance (if only a little) here are some great gift ideas from Helvetas. A Swiss based organisation that promotes self-reliant and sustainable development in the countries of the South. They are particularly keen on the "promotion of the sustainable exploitation of natural resources" through "ecologically sound agriculture, husbandry and forestry, coastal fisheries, bio-diversity, rural credit systems [and] promotion of peasant organizations." They achieve this through their 300 local indigenous staff, in places that don't usually make the nightly northern news, such as Kyrgystan, Bhutan, Benin, Leosotho, Paraguay and Guatemala, amongst others. ::Helvetas [by WM] Take a peek in their Fair Trade Online Store for goodies like the following:1. Pashmina Scarf. (picture above)
Supports the fair employment of Nepalese women, who weave this luxurious cloth from goats, bred in mountains of Nepal and Tibet. The scarves pass WWF's Oeko test. 210g, 84 x190cm, packaged in handmade Nepalese paper. 70% Pashmina 30% silk. 298 Swiss Francs.


2. Silver Bracelet.
Supports the traditional handicraft of the famed Tuareg desert tribes of the Niger, Africa. The Helvetas program assists with design, quality control and marketing of this handmade jewellery. Packaged in handmade Nepalese cloth bags. 84.60 Swiss Francs.


3. Glass Karafe (or Vase).
Supports innovative Guatemalan cooperatives who create works with recycled glass, while paying fair wages and offering good social security benefits. This mouth-blown karafe/vase is 25 cm tall and can be used with matching juice or wine glasses. 27 Swiss Frances.


4. Organic Cotton Kids T-shirts.
Supports Mali farmers in Africa, as they make the 3 year transition to full organic certification. Soil destruction is prevented, and the costs of pesticide and artificial fertilizers no longer required, thus enhancing the livelihood of farming communities. Helvetas also supports the Clean Clothes Campaign - international fair conditions in the textile industry. The animal motifs on the shirts were created by the Tingatinga artists workshop in Dar es Salaam. 25 Swiss Francs.


5. Bamboo Bowl
Supports local communities in Vietnam, with fair trade for their craft work. In this case the 'Haiphong' bowl, where the bamboo has been pulled up at each end for a different look. Available in natural or a rusty red lacquer finish. 25cm long. 28 Swiss Francs.

NB: If you don't need to get physical gifts, you could always give someone the gift of membership to Helvetas, so they knew that they were contributing to an important balance of trade, between the South and North.