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Artisan Stories: Jute Basketweavers, Bangladesh

Jute Basketweavers, Bangladesh


Our jute baskets are made by a small family-run workshop in Bangladesh. The owner had previously been employed installing phone lines but, when mobile phones arrived in Bangladesh, he found himself looking for a new focus. He developed a new method for creating jute rope and grew his ethical business from there.

Bangladesh is a country of extremes, with densely-populated cities and remote rural villages. The UN identifies Bangladesh as one of the 'least developed' countries in the world based on social and economic measures. The jute workshop is located just north of Dhaka, the capital city.

Jute


In Bangladesh, jute is affectionately known as 'the golden fibre' due to its colour and high economic value. Jute leaves even feature in the country's national emblem. Jute is exceptionally eco-friendly as it's a rain-fed crop and requires no fertiliser or pesticides. Growing plants take in three times more CO2 than the average tree, helping to purify the air.

How is it made?


First, the jute stems are cut, bundled and immersed in slow-running river water, which breaks down the non-fibrous parts of the plant. The soft fibres are then stripped and hung in the sun to dry, before being dyed. Finally, the jute fibre is spun into rope, coiled and sewn into shape.

How your purchase improves lives


This workshop in Bangladesh is committed to providing regular employment in a working environment that is safe and hygienic. It employs both men and women and pays a living wage to all. Most of the jute would previously have been made into basic sacks but, by training artisans in a skilled craft to make baskets instead, they can now generate a much higher income.

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Image credits: Green Pioneer, Prithu De, Arttu Manninen