The concept of recycling has been around for thousands of years, back to the era of Plato in 400 BC. Recycling then was done out of necessity – reusing and converting materials when resources were scarce. But a few millennia later we had a little different problem – too many resources. Or rather, too much waste.

A key moment in the world’s modern recycling movement came in 1987. A barge named the Mobro 4000 was hauling tons of garbage from New York to North Carolina where it was supposed to be turned into methane. Once it got there, it wasn’t allowed to stay, so it continued on to Belize where it also was turned away. The barge had to return to New York and was finally incinerated. A media firestorm ensued regarding solid-waste disposal and recycling. Continued public discussion on the issue is credited with the increased recycling rates of the late 1980s and after.

Global Exchange is helping the recycling effort and promoting fair trade. Our Fair Trade Store is proud to say that it works with a number of producers worldwide to offer a variety of recycled products. A great example are the products we carry made of recycled magazines in Vietnam. Beautiful bowls, picture frames, ornaments and other products are made by cutting and folding old magazine paper, into long strips. They are then soaked in glue and dried. Once dry, the creations are hand-formed, piece by piece until the desired shape is completed. The products are part of a program aimed at helping street children and various other social work projects in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It is an income generator and education project for poor and neglected children, adolescents and poor women. It also provides appropriate training and promotes self-reliance for disadvantaged families and people of ethnic minorities. Please take a moment to visit our store and see our great selection of recycled products.

by Derek Hines, Global Exchange Fair Trade Online Store