When I walk into my dad’s house it’s filled with paper. He fumbles with his new smart phone by day, but when the evening rolls around he finds no greater pleasure then thumbing through print magazines. He flips through the glossy pages to find recipes for the grill, good hiking trails, used car parts in the classifieds, and to learn about the newest innovations in his industry.

I also share his love for information in print. Like him, I end most days away from the neon computer screen, curled up flipping pages. But with my work in Fair Trade and studies in Anthropology, our interests don’t always line up, nor do our reading topics.

I usually don’t find my dad deep in his reading about cultural heritage and weaving in the highlands of Peru. And he probably won’t read this blog.  But where we do come together is in the celebration of craftsmanship, resourcefulness, and ingenuity in design.

recyceld mag multiSo when I told him about a group of artisans in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam who are making beautiful, functional housewares out of recycled magazines similar to those he has stacked around his apartment, he wanted to know more.

We print lovers know paper can really pile up. And the thought of newspapers and magazines being printed on fresh paper everyday is disturbing to many.

recyceld mag coasterThis is why my Dad and I are so excited about the scrap paper industry, which taps into the ongoing potential of collecting paper scraps and upcycling them into viable end products.

A growing number of paper upcycling efforts are popping up in the U.S, including undeliverable mail  being made into new envelopes and scrap paper getting recycled into biodegradable mulch mats for reforestation projects.

In Ho Chi Minh City, 60 artisans are employed in the creation of housewares handmade from recycled magazines and newspapers, coiled and wound in the same style as their traditional bamboo tableware.  The beautiful frames, bowls, plates & coasters wound from yesterday’s news, hold the dual function of brightening up your home while reducing the amount of scrap paper in the waste stream. My dad thinks that makes sense.

The business was started by Hien and Binh who were trained by their uncle Duc in traditional paper craft.  With the support of Mai Handicrafts, a Vietnam based World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) member that provides sustainable employment and business development opportunities for Vietnamese artisans, the business grew by incorporating their traditional techniques in the creation of innovative, functional products.

Today, 20 artisans work together in a workshop that undergoes regular inspection according to WFTO standards and 40 more work from the comfort of their homes.

Visit Global Exchange for recycled paper Father’s Day gifts!

Fair-Trade-Recycled-Paper-FThe Global Exchange Fair Trade Stores have partnered with Mai Handicrafts to make this innovative product line available to you. My Father’s Day gift this year will be a photo of Dad and me in a recycled magazine frame.  What better gift for Father’s Day then a gift that just plain makes sense!






This Father’s Day, show your Dad that he raised a smart kid with a good heart by giving him a Fair Trade gift! Shop online at the Global Exchange Online Store for everything from recycled bike chain coat hooks to recycled inner tube wallets to heavy-duty steel and brass scissors. Or, come into the Global Exchange Fair Trade Store in San Francisco (map) for these gifts and more – like our huge selection of handmade picture frames! Today through Father’s Day, Sunday, June 19, buy one frame, get the second 50% OFF!

Recycled magazine frames are a great gift for every eco-conscious dad. Made in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, our recycled magazine products are part of a program aimed at helping street children, poor women, and people of ethnic minorities. The 3″x3″ and 4″x6″ frames are made of tightly coiled recycled magazines and candy wrappers; the paper is cut, folded into long strips, and then soaked in glue (pictured above).

Handcrafted in India, these tree of life picture frames can hold 3″x3″, 4″x6″, or 5″x7″ photos and. They are truly unique, each with slight color variations of hand-carved mango wood. Make it a complete set with a matching box!

These striking frames are hand-woven by women of the indigenous Bodo tribe of Assam, India. The artisan cooperative uses 100% cotton scrap fabric, woven on bamboo looms, to create stylish pieces that incorporate traditional Bodo design elements. The 5″x7″ recycled fabric frames come in a variety colors, in both single and double frames.

What better way to show off your treasured memories with Dad than with a one-of-a-kind frame? Stop by San Francisco’s Global Exchange Store to see even more handcrafted frames, and other great fair trade Father’s Day gift items! Remember – this week only – buy one frame, get the second 50% off!