When Sri Lankan artist Sagara Ranga Liyanage decided to start a handicrafts business, he had to think outside the box. “I didn’t have the capital for a startup business,” he explains. “I knew I must start with what I have.” What he had around him were two resources: wastepaper and a community of hardworking village women who were battling poverty.
Thus, Earthbound Creations was born: a social enterprise that treads lightly on the local environment by recycling waste materials and using eco-friendly processes from start to finish. It employs mostly women from the village of Udaperadeniya. They can be mums, too. They can work during school hours or even from home if minding small children. Earthbound has also set up education and investment programmes for their artisans and their families, after noticing that many village women had little knowledge or experience managing savings for the future.
The products, including hand-woven baskets, coasters, pencils and ornaments, use natural dyes and glues, with paper collected from local dumpsites. Earthbound Creations has been such a successful win-win that the enterprise has grown from just 3 employees in 2003 to 1,700 in 2018. They now export to 11 countries, including Hong Kong, where we started selling Earthbound Creations’ products in late 2018 at our Global Handicrafts shop.
“Cultivating environmental stewardship” is one of the nine principles of Fair Trade, and it’s one that Earthbound Creations lives and breathes, like so many of our Global Handicrafts producers. The products they create invest in the earth and in real people’s lives.