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In this page we aim to provide some green links for you to find more information about the enviroment, how to choose green products, become a savvy green shopper not only at home but at work, and generally, help the planet!
  1. Greenpeace Canada: www.greenpeace.ca
  2. Greenpeace Colombia: http://www.greenpeacecolombia.org/
  3. The Greenpeace Living Guide: the-greenpeace-green-living-gu.jpgOffers real solutions for environmental living at home, at work and in your community. The Greenpeace Living Guide reflects Greenpeace's commitment to political and practical action. It offers real solutions for environmental living at home, at work and in your community. It also shows how each one of us can get political and be an every day activist—taking on the root causes of environmental issues around the world. http://www.greenpeace.org/canada/en/greenpeace-living-guide
  4. Ontario Environmental Network: http://www.oen.ca/
Since a lot of our products are made with natural fibres, we invite you see the video about 2009 The Year of the Natural Fibres -  2009 Ano Internacional de las Fibras Naturales:http://www.naturalfibres2009.org/es/index.html



Here is a brief description of the natural fibres (fibras naturales) used in the production of some of Fair Trade Colombia's products - some of the information is only available in Spanish, we have done our best to translate some of it.


1. Calceta de Platano:
(Information from one of our producers: Fundacion Progresamos www.fundacionprogresamos.org.co
).
Calceta y Arte Foto.JPG

Es un cultivo permanente que se autoreemplaza con un pequeno retono que crece la lado de la planta madre, la cual muere al ser cosechada. Pertenece a la familia de las MUSACEAS y su nombre generico es MUSA PARADISIACA. El fruto es comestible, pero tambien se utilizan otras partes de la planta como es la calceta, para elaborar artesanias, las hojas para envolver tamales y la bellota para alimentacion humana. Dependiendo de la region sele conoce como guasca, zuncho, latigo, bejuco o majagua. La calceta del platano es el seudo tallo de la planta, denominado tambien falso; esta formado for las calcetas o bejucos que la planta va soltando a medida que va creciendo. Esta maravillosa fibra es transformada por las manos de nuestros artesanos en bellas obras artesanales.


Musa (genus) From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Musa is one of three genera in the family Musaceae; it includes bananas and plantains. There are over 50 species of Musa with a broad variety of uses. The word "banana" came via Iberian[citation needed] from a West African language (possibly Wolof) circa 1597 and has since found its way into most Western languages. The scientific name for the genus is similar to and possibly derived from the Arabic, Persian mawz/mauz (موز) or Turkish (muz) names for the fruit.

Though they grow as high as trees, banana and plantain plants are not woody and their apparent "stem" is just the bases of the huge leaf stalks. Thus they are technically gigantic herbs.

2. Seda Natural (Natural Silk): Information in Spanish from one of our producers: Valleseda (www.valleseda.com) Visit this useful Website for more information


Al conjunto de actividades que se realizan para la producción de seda natural se le llama sericultura e integra las fases de:
• Producción de huevos de donde nace el gusano de seda.
• cultivo de la planta de la morera
• cría del gusano de seda
• producción de capullos tejidos por el gusano
• producción de hilos de seda obtenidos del capullo.

Cultivo de la planta de la morera
La morera es una planta que pertenece a la familia de las moráceas, originaria de Asia central, arbustiva, que se constituye en el único alimento del gusano de seda y se desarrolla bien en pisos térmicos que van desde los 900 a los 1500 m.s.n.m., con temperaturas promedio de 23° - 28°c.

Cria del Gusano de Seda:
El gusano de seda (bómbyx mori) es un insecto que tiene una metamorfosis completa, pasando por los estados de huevo, larva, pupa y polilla o mariposa.

Ciclo biológico del gusano de seda
El huevo del gusano de seda tiene el tamaño de una cabeza de alfiler, su incubación dura 12 días aproximadamente, a partir de los cuales nace una pequeña larva de unos 3mm de longitud. El periodo larval dura unos 25 días y comprende 5 edades ó instares y 4 mudas o ecdisis; finalizada esta etapa se inicia la formación del capullo que demora 72 horas. La larva se transforma en pupa 2 días después y a los siguientes 10 días emerge la polilla. Después de copular, la hembra pone entre 400 y 500 huevos.
Ventajas de la sericultura:

La sericultura es una actividad de integración familiar, que genera ingresos y empleo a las comunidades rurales y población vulnerable.
Adicionalmente, el color de la seda es dado con tintes naturales extraidos de hojas, semillas, flores y principalmente cana de azucar y cafe dando como resultado una caracterizacion muy colombiana a los tejidos de sena natural del Valle del Cauca.


Natural Silk:


Sericulture is the cultivation of cocoons for their filaments. The best raw silk is obtained from the species of moth called Bombyx mori. Breeding of silkworm occurs once in a year but under scientific conditions, they may be hatched three times a year. The female moth lays around 350 to 400 eggs and the moths die soon after. As they are subject to hereditary infection, the eggs from infected moths are destroyed which results into production of fine silk. Larvae of about 3mm are hatched from the eggs. For about 20 to 30 days, they are carefully nurtured and are fed five times a day on chopped mulberry leaves. In the meantime, the larvae change their skin for four times and are formed into caterpillar of about 9 cm long. Now they are ready to spin cocoon for which racks, clusters of twigs or straw are provided.

The caterpillar have small openings under their jaws called spinnerets through which they secret a protein like substance. This substance solidifies when it comes in contact with air and the filament thus formed is spun around the silkworm in the figure resembling the digit 8. In three days the cocoon gets completed which is about a peanut shell's size. The filament is held together by sericin or silk gum. The life of the worm is ended by the process of 'stoving' or 'stifling' in which the cocoons are heated. Some of the cocoons are preserved so that the pupa or chrysalis inside them develop into moths for further breeding.
Sericulture is generally a family activity that generates jobs and income to rural and vulnerable communities.
Additionally, the silk's colour is obtained by using natural tintes extracted from leaves, seeds, flowers and mostly from sugar cane and coffee which gives a very colombian caractheristic to the natural silk produced in the region of Valle del Cauca.


3. Werregue: Info from: Colombia Travel - Official Tourism Portal (http://www.colombia.travel/en/)

The basketwork manufactured in werregue (also, güérregue), the most elegant of fiber handicrafts, is unique in South America. Most probably it came from Africa, as is evidenced by the exactness, coordination and rhythm that allows the desired forms to be obtained and the harmony in the selection of the combination of designs.

Weaving a vase can take between 30 and 60 days. The result is a unique piece that will always be admired for its beauty and grace.


Comunidad Waunana

Werregue handicrafts are made by the Waunana Indian community that inhabits the San Juan River delta, in the rainforest of Colombia’s Pacific Coast.

Due to the unique construction methods used for werregue baskets, it takes several days to several months for an artisan to make each basket. Each is a work of art in itself, and no two are alike. Made from the spines of werregue palm trees, the baskets are lined internally so they hold water. The baskets are used by the local people to carry water from the rivers and lakes into the village. Inside and out, the baskets look like they're completely made of woven palm; the secret water shield is buried among the layers of the basket. Because of this, it is heavier than you would expect a basket to be. The palm fibers are also dense and slick, adding to the solid feel of these specially crafted pieces.

Werregue baskets are considered to be the finest baskets made in Colombia. Their craftsmanship, detail, and the tight weaving of the fibers are easy to appreciate. They are extremely beautiful and also durable. Beneath the top layers of fiber you can see the tight coils used to shape the baskets. They are coiled tigher and of smaller diameter at the bottom of the basket. They grow as the basket widens out and they narrow again at the narrowest part of the neck below the rim.
Basketry is a feminine occupation. It is the Waunana women who process the leaves of the werregue palm to obtain the fibers that are later dyed. They use a spiral technique to make the baskets. Using a spiral technique, they roll the flexible werregue fibers and sew them to the base and then work on the sides until they achieve a basket called “coca”. (Lablaa)

History of the werregue vases

Originally, the Waunana women manufactured werregue vases with a texture so solid and compact that they could be used to carry water.


Raw material



waunana.jpg

Werregue crafts

The main material for the production of these handicrafts is a fiber from the werregue, a 20 to 30 meter high palm tree with a thorny trunk. The sprouts are removed to extract ribbon-like strips that later are turned into strands.

At present, and in response to the interest of the public for this kind of decorative products, the Waunana combined the werregue fiber with new materials. And they began to make not only baskets and vases, but also dishes and plates in which they used the werregue fiber as well as the wood from the werregue tree.


Design and color in werregue handicrafts

Werregue handicrafts have been widely accepted in national and international markets by virtue of the beauty, elegance and ingenuity of each and every product.

The designs include:

  • Pictorial images from Waunana mythology
  • Geometric shapes
  • Schematic representations of men and animals

All these figures are depicted in a symmetrical balanced way, thus exhibiting the Indians’ view of the Universe and Man.

In regard to color, the original white fiber of the werregue is combined with collored fibers dyed with pigments obtained from:

  • Annatto seeds, with their orange and reddish tones
  • The juice of the jagua (Genipa Americana) fruit is used as black dye.

4. Fique and Straw: Info from: Colombia Travel - Official Tourism Portal (http://www.colombia.travel/en/)

Vegetable fibers like fique and straw have always been used in Colombia for manufacturing artisan products. With their added advantage of being biodegradable and ecological, they have been used for making packing containers, sacks for transporting coffee and fertilizers, rope, etc.

Fique (Furcraea andina), also called cabuya, is a plant that grows in most climates and altitudes in Colombia. The country has an annual production of about 30,000 tons of the plant.

On the other hand, in this case, straw refers to the leaf of a palm tree. The straw must have an even thickness in order to obtain a perfect rolling and assembling of the handicraft, in such a way that it will not become undone when manipulating it and wrapping it in fique. Artisans choose the plants from the highest regions, which are the longest and smoothest.


Info from Wikipedia:

Fique is a natural fiber that grows in the leaves of the fique plant (Furcraea andina ), a xerophytic monocot native to Andean regions of Colombia. From here it was extended to Venezuela and the east coast of Brazil. Common names: Fique, Cabuya, Pita, Penca, Maguey, Cabui, Chuchao or Coquiza[1].The fique plant is often confused with the agave plant. The differences are that the Agave leaves are yellowish and stiff, with a strong spike in the tips, while the Fique plant leaves are droopy and greenish without a spike. (from Wikepedia).