Local Eco-Shopping: Ten Thousand Villages Stores


Tis the season, already, for shopping at Ten Thousand Villages.

There are currently two Ten Thousand Villages Stores in Ottawa. One in Westboro, across from the Mountain Equipment Co-op. And the other in Old Ottawa South near Patty’s Pub. However, starting this Friday (Nov. 2nd), a third temporary “festival” location of Ten Thousand Villages will open at the Mennonite Church on Kilborn in Alta Vista. This is an annual event and is always good news for conscientious consumers.

Ten Thousand Villages stores are committed to fair trade and are run as non-profits by volunteers. Ten Thousand Villages operates on the principle that “trade should have a conscience.” The Ten Thousand Villages organization purchases high quality products made by artisans and agriculturalists in low-income countries for a fair price and sells these products to consumers in wealthier countries, such as Canada. They also aim to educate consumers about the importance of fair trade and about cultures in other parts of the world. For example, their web-site provides lots of information about the various groups of artisans whose goods are for sale at their stores.

Everything sold by Ten Thousand Villages is produced by hand, often through cooperative or aid organizations. While it is all produced in a manner way more sustainable than anything you could buy at the mall, there are a few products in this year’s line that stood out for me:

  • Colourful plates and bowls made out of magazine pages
  • Decadent hats and scarves made out of recycled sari silk
  • Elegant journals made out of banana fibre, cornhusks, water hyacinths, jute and recycled cotton and paper
  • Baskets made variously from grass, bamboo, and banana leaves
  • Bowls carved from salvaged teak wood
  • Bags from jute, or hemp, or recycled saris
  • Organic coffee
  • Organic chocolates and cocoa powder

To purchase any of these products (or some of the countless others I didn’t list) or to volunteer your time contact your local Ten Thousand Villages store…

Ten Thousand Villages, West 371 Richmond Road, Ottawa, 613-759-4701

Ten Thousand Villages, Old Ottawa South 1174 Bank Street, 613-736-0401

Ten Thousand Villages Christmas Festival, the first four Fridays (3pm-8pm) and Saturdays (10am-4pm) in November (for 2007 that’s Nov. 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24) at the Ottawa Mennonite Church, 1830 Kilborn Avenue, 613-238-2774

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