Ethical consumerism through the SPIRAL Foundation

I came across the SPIRAL foundation at Sozo in Vietnam where I spotted a collection of their jewellery for sale. After I grabbed the brochure, I found that it is a humanitarian project where all proceeds from handicraft sales go back to Vietnam and Nepal to fund primary healthcare and educational projects for the underprivileged. Talk about ethical consumer gold!

It is based in Vietnam and Nepal and been in operation since 1999. Currently 1000 Vietnamese and Nepalese are employed with fair wages based on an hourly rate and not on piece-work. Members of the SPIRAL foundation workshops have an active role in the allocation and monitoring of all funds generated by proceeds from the sales of their gift line.

By using eco-friendly materials, the foundation aims to promote local art & craft and also educate people about the importance of environmental sustainability. This fair-trade, people-centered, ethical business model has become widely successful with more than 180 gift items successfully selling worldwide.

Environmental awareness is the very center of their business model. Discarded material is often used in their gift line. In Vietnam, bowls made from discarded telephone wires are used to fund heart surgeries. In Nepal, woman made recycled plastic products and this one project alone generates a fair income for more than 1000 families. Proceeds also go towards funding a maternity healthcare clinic. All items are produced with a consciousness towards the preservation and the revival of the local handicraft traditions.

Many of their artisans are disabled and the foundation works on the principle of full transparency in all accounting with all workshop members.  They also have a resale and information facility to promote self-sustainability. The SPIRAL foundation has been featured on Lonely Planet and more recently in Time Out and Huffington Post. It also has a huge celebrity fan following including Hugh Jackman, George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio, Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Angelina Jolie etc.

Although their main shop in Vietnam is in Hue, you can find their products pretty much anywhere and they are also being exported to the US. Supporting artisans and encouraging local art & craft is an excellent way to get started on green living - more on this in a later post!

Photo: Bowl made of bamboo and recycled plastic wrappers in Vietnam. SPIRAL Foundation ©