Extreme taboo surrounds the process of menstruation in some parts of India, says local NGO, Goonj. What options do women have, then, without access to feminine hygiene products? In rural India, millions of women improvise with rags or, unthinkably, sand, ash and the like. As a result, they meet infection and disease, not to mention a crippling lack of dignity.

Goonj is doing what it can to restore that dignity to Indian women. In a project they call ‘Not Just a Piece of Cloth’, they produce pads and underwear out of cleaned, recycled textiles. They distribute these in packs to rural women, teaching them how to sew pads of their own. For the women, this simple provision is proving liberating and empowering.

This creative organisation also supports its women with another of their innovative enterprises. They train women to make paper bags out of recycled newspaper so they can earn income based on fair trade principles. These bags are sold all over the world, including Crossroads.

Any time you buy something from our Global Handicrafts shop, you will be given your purchase in one of Goonj’s recycled paper bags.

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One of the tenets of our fair trade principles is care for the environment. In our cafe and marketplace, we sell goods that are eco friendly as well as powerful in generating income for people in need.

The creativity of our producers leaves us in awe as they recycle and upcycle.

• In Uganda, for example, victims of the war years were strapped for materials to generate income. They roll, colour and varnish newspaper to produce jewellery so elegant none of our shoppers can guess the source material.

• In Mongolia and Myanmar, artisans upcycle glass shard to produce Christmas ornaments.

• In Cambodia, in the hands of craftsmen, rice sacks turn into funky bags, large and small.

• In India, saries are upcycled to provide decorative features on hessian bags.

• In Vietnam, crisp wrappers turn into tableware

Many of those farmers and suppliers also focus on organic products: tea, coffee, jams, cocoa, chocolates and spices.

Shop Now!

Browse Global Handicrafts’ full online range here or visit our shop at Crossroads Village to walk through our colourful global marketplace, with even more handmade delights from around the world, all of which care for the people who made them.

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Poland: Helping Ukrainian refugees

WHO IS THIS SHIPMENT HELPING? As the conflict continues in Ukraine, millions of refugees have been forced to cross the border into...

read more ...

Zambia: Community development and training

WHO IS THIS SHIPMENT HELPING? While Zambia is a nation of relative stability and positive growth, almost 80% of people in rural...

read more ...

Cameroon: Education in rural communities

WHO IS THIS SHIPMENT HELPING? In a country where more than a third of the population lives in absolute poverty, many people...

read more ...

Cameroon: Training and rebuilding

WHO IS THIS SHIPMENT HELPING? From modest beginnings providing educational opportunities for street kids and widows, our partners in Cameroon have grown...

read more ...