Bangladesh Artisans

In Canada, many of us wouldn’t give a second thought to chucking an old pair of socks in the garbage or ditching an out-of-style pair of jeans. On average, we dispose of approximately 30 pounds of textile waste each year.

It gets worse. Research shows us that only 25 percent of that material is recycled, although up to 95 per cent of it could be repurposed or reused.

We can learn a thing or two from some ingenious and talented makers in India and Bangladesh. Rather than throwing away old saris – the graceful, traditional swaths of cloth women wear there – they’re upcycling the fabric and turning old trash into pretty, practical items. Think slouch bags, purses, potholders, throws, dhurrie rugs and even boxes.

The InspirationAll the way back in late November 2013, Kristen Reffle, our merchandising coordinator, visited Bergen, Norway. Stepping out into the shops one evening, she found herself in awe of the holiday scene unfolding around her.

Twinkling lights shone in every window and in the streets, nestled amongst the simple, clean lines of ornaments shaped like stars, trees and hearts. Home décor items and Christmas decorations enticed shoppers to touch their cozy red and white felt.

That’s when she knew she wanted to create a new Christmas collection for Ten Thousand Villages that would feel Scandinavian, but adhere to the principles of fair trade.

“I wanted people to look at this collection and feel the cheerful warmth of Christmas,” she says now.