With conscious consumerism trending, finding ethical and eco-friendly handmade goods of excellent quality is no easy feat. Especially products to match our budget without taking advantage of the individuals that make them.
We make an active choice about the companies we support when we give them our money, and in doing so endorse their practices. Today, when companies can affect the living conditions of thousands of people more so than constitutions, there’s power in where we put our cash.
One Village is an umbrella enterprise that “works directly with community organisations in some of the most economically stretched parts of the world … to build up the wellbeing of communities”. It does this by retailing and wholesaling handcrafted furnishings for the home, with all producers paid equity for their work.
From India, to Mali, to Palestine—it is possible to find a wide range of rugs, bedspreads, and pottery, all made by traditional means with natural resources.
One of my current favourites are hand woven drugget rugs. These beautiful creations come from the village Jawaja. A part of Rajasthan formerly regarded as one of the “least hopeful places in India” (onevillage.org/rugs/jawaja). Weaving and other business initiatives in this region were inspired by Professor Ravi J Matthai, whose vision for the community was rooted in his “firm conviction that even in a desolate place like this [Jawaja] great things are possible when people work together for the common good.”
Over the years, the weaver’s connection with One Village has totally transformed their desolate position in wider society. Meaning, we can purchase fabulous rugs for our homes in good conscious and appreciate the skill of Jawaja’s artisans.
It’s not always possible to buy handmade crafts to suit our budget, nor is it always simple to find exactly what we’re looking for outside of mass-market companies. But it’s not impossible. Handmade goods come with a story, a unique sense of human time, effort and skill, and often we’re supporting families and communities with fairer distribution methods than corporate coffers.
Quality and Handmade
I personally can attest to similar handmade rugs being of excellent quality as I have one in my kitchen! I needed a rug without a rubber back otherwise my old quarry tiled floor would sweat. Having been a fan of natural flooring for many years, when I found my large coir mat via One Village. Impressed by the business’s transparency and reasonable prices I ordered a large rug. 8 years on, my coir rug has coped well with constant foot/paw traffic.
Handmade goods can mean lasting durability. Unlike some machine-made household goods, human eyes can spot weaknesses as the product is being made. High volume doesn’t necessarily mean high quality. Where possible I love to source handmade pieces for my clients and myself. There’s so much to learn from artisans, their stories are part of the fabric and paint. Seeking out ethical talent is a rewarding challenge.
It might cost more than mass produced goods, to buy handmade, but it doesn’t have to leave you out of pocket. Where there’s a will to find designs to suit your needs, there’s always a way!