- Food from the Hood - A group of high-schoolers started this program in L.A. after the Rodney King riots. They grew a garden and sold their fruits and veggies at the farmer's market. Eventually they formulated their own salad dressing and now sell that online. The Food from the Hood program boasts an almost 100% graduation rate, which is more than double the average for the state of California. All graduates of the program have gone on to college or other education and so far 14 have also completed masters degrees. The dressings run $3 per bottle.
- Arghand Soap - This soap-making coop in Afghanistan was started in 2005 to give farmers an opportunity to grow legal crops instead of growing opium. Arghand uses their crops (almonds, pomegranates, apricots, herbs, flowers) to make hand milled luxury soaps and skin-care products. Additionally, Arghand is co-ed, something that is not really heard of in Afghanistan, giving women a voice they've never had.
- Mr. Ellie Pooh - Sells 100% handmade journals, stationary, scrapbooking albums and paper made from 75% Sri Lankan elephant dung. Yep, that's poop people. Evidently there is a huge man v. elephant struggle happening in Sri Lanka. The elephants use farmers' crops for food, the farmers kill them. In order to show that the elephants can carry their own weight, so to speak, Mr. Ellie Pooh was formed. Elephants there eat all plants, thus their dung is mostly raw cellulose, which is cleaned (whew!) then turned into paper. Did you know that an adult elephant can produce 500 lbs of dung per day?
- Hagar Project - Lovely handbags and accessories made by women in Cambodia who were sex slaves, victims of abuse or human trafficking, prostitutes, and other unthinkable things. These women are not only given good jobs at fair wages, they are also provided with shelter, counseling, literacy, job training and care for their children.
And another site I just learned of (thanks Kate!) is Bead for Life where Ugandan women turn colorful recycled paper into beautiful beads. They sell necklaces, bracelets, loose beads and a variety of other items.
Now you can feel good about the shopping you do today!