Tote bags are everywhere, with every other store replicating the same old design. While we’re all for sustainable shopping hacks, some variety out of regular totes is always welcome. Why not jazz up your market days with trendy, sustainable woven baskets! We looked around for woven baskets made from natural fiber and found a fun variety. 

Natural Market Basket, Tan Handle -The Little Market

We found ten woven basket designs that we thought you would love. They’re compostable and beautifully crafted, guaranteed to make your market days a lot more exciting while keeping it Eco. Better still, we’ve highlighted some brands that have a sustainability footprint, are ethical, and subscribe to Fair Trade practices.

1. The Little Market

We found this market basket at The Little Market, a non-profit Fair Trade store carrying various products for Home & Living. This particular design of the woven basket is hand-made in Ghana, woven by Ghanaian women from palm fronds. 

We love the sustainable mission of this store because it’s not just about making profits. The Little Market’s core objective is to change the livelihoods of the artisans who make these products. They support several women-led groups, working with women who have survived domestic violence, extreme hardship, or poverty.

According to their website, everything stocked by The Little Market is ethically sourced from artisan groups and under-served communities, including:

  • Refugees
  • Re-settled individuals
  • Survivors of sex-trafficking
  • People with Disabilities
  • Young mothers
  • Individuals living in extreme poverty

We love the assortment of woven baskets on offer by The Little Market because they’re so versatile. They’re perfect for your fruit & veg market shopping, beach, and picnic carry-alls, and even for home decor. There’s so much to love about The Little Market woven baskets range. These beautiful, handcrafted products are worth supporting because they’re ethically sourced, Fair trade, and benefit deserving communities. 

2. Ten Thousand Villages

Essential Companion Tote by Ten Thousand Villages handing on a wall

Essential Companion Tote– Ten Thousand Villages

Ten Thousand Villages is another amazing Fair Trade non-profit brand, whose woven products we fell in love with. Based in Pennsylvania, US, Ten Thousand Villages stocks ethically sourced products, made by 120+ artisans from 35 different countries. 

This brand is big on ethical practices. They’re committed to upholding Fair trade practices in supporting the artisans from the communities it sources products from. Here’s how:

  1. Transparent price agreement: Once a product design has been agreed upon with the artisans, they quote a price that covers all their production overheads. Ten Thousand Villages upholds the artisans’ price quoted, ensuring that it meets or exceeds the living expenses of the workers. Additionally, the brand ensures that the artisans work in a safe environment as they do the production.
  2. Upfront Payment of 50% to artisans for work contracted: This provides capital to the artisans, ensuring that they can source the raw materials needed to fulfill the work order, and also meet production overheads. Because the artisans are mainly disadvantaged poor communities, they may not have access to financing, or fair, non-exploitative loans. This model empowers the artisans to be able to produce sustainably.
  3. Payment for orders is completed before the goods are shipped to the US: This unconventional approach transfers all risk to the brand, ensuring that the artisans are paid for the products once they are packed, ready to ship.
  4. Maintaining a steady US market for hand-made goods: By seeking out and maintaining a stable maker-to-market environment, Ten Thousand Villages can ensure that artisans in developing countries have fair, sustainable income.
  5. Ethical reinvestment cycle: Profits from sales of goods and donations from well-wishers to projects are ethically reinvested into the artisans’ businesses. All this works to empower the artisans, improve their livelihoods, and break the cycle of poverty they face.

Ten Thousand Villages' Artisan Investment Model - infographic about how it works

If, like us, you’re sold on the powerful, sustainable approach used by Ten Thousand Villages, and would love to support their mission, head over to their woven baskets shop and make your selection from their beautiful stock.  Make sure to look at the artisans supported by Ten Thousand Villages and their stories, to find out how the crafts they make impacts their lives.

3. Made Trade Baskets

Made Trade is one more sustainable brand we came across, carrying a massive array of products that uphold one or more of the following core values:

  • Fair trade
  • Heritage
  • Sustainable
  • Women-owned
  • Vegan
  • People-of-Color owned
  • Made in the USA

There’s more about each of Made Trade’s core values here.

In line with their core values, each of Made Trade’s multi-functional baskets is ethically made by artisans, mainly from Africa and Latin America. Materials used in weaving these natural fiber baskets are locally sourced in the same regions where the artisans are based.

Something else we love about Made Trade’s woven baskets is that they have so much variety for home decor. The finishing is beautiful, with well-chosen color combinations that bring character to any space they’re used in. Why not switch up your living space with these creative woven designs, and see the difference they make.

4. Overstock Woven Baskets

Overstock is an online retail store stocking a whole range of products for home and garden. They bring together some of the best merchandise, sourced from around the world onto one platform. They uphold values of premium product quality offered at the best prices,  all the while supporting causes that are close to heart, such as:

 

  • Pet Adoption – partners with Best Friends Animal Society in Utah;
  • Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF) – provides fully funded education to children of special operations service members;

Overstock also supports the local US farmers as well as international artisans, by sourcing products for the online store. The range of woven baskets stocked by Overstock is impressive, in terms of quality and uniqueness in design.

Two White Overstock Woven Baskets next to each other in a living room setting

Although there’s a variety of brands to choose from, we particularly liked the stylish designs from Studio 350. These round, checkered baskets are made from cotton rope and provide a perfect contrast in the decor of any room. 

You will need to read through the product details, though, just to ensure the material is a natural fiber. 

5. The Basket Room

Camilla and Holly, the co-founders of The Basket Room, began the brand after an eye-opening journey to Africa. During their trip through South and East Africa, the two friends encountered the art of basket weaving, through beautiful products and getting to meet the local artisans.

As graduates of fashion design, Camilla and Holly had a mutual passion for specifically sourcing ethical, handcrafted products for their store. The Basket Room stocks woven products of all shapes, designs, and colors, including these:

  • Moses baskets
  • Tableware and bread baskets
  • Bike baskets 
  • Market baskets
  • Woven planters
  • Dog baskets
  • Fashion bags and totes
  • Floor rugs and runners

Camilla and Holly partner with weavers in Kenya, Swaziland, and Ghana, curating collections of unique ethnic patterns and weaving styles in their store. What we love about Camilla and Holly is that they support the local artisans directly in several ways;

  • They travel to meet their weavers in different countries;
  • Get to know the artisans’ stories and share them on their blog;
  • Ensure that the artisans work in safe environments;
  • Pay them fair wages to enable them to improve their standard of living.

Why not take a look at The Basket Room blog to read up on the travels of Camilla and Holly, as well as their inspirational experiences as they get to meet the weavers behind the beautiful craftwork in the stores.

6. Connected Goods

Connected Goods is a family-run business based in Oregon, which stocks hand-made products. They operate on an ethos built on:

  • Fair Trade principles, 
  • Locally sourced material (locally found at the artisans’ location), and
  • Sustainable principles

Connected Goods supports fair labor practices for their artisans, safe working conditions, fair wages, community development, and environmental sustainability. In developing countries, Connected Goods facilitates the building of schools and healthcare facilities in the artisan communities, to ensure that they have access to necessities for quality of life.

Because the woven baskets are hand-made, each piece carries its hand-made character, making each of them wonderfully unique. What’s excellent about Connected Goods is that each time you purchase an item, part of the proceeds goes to support the artisan who made it, many of whom come from underserved communities.

7. At Home Decor Store

At Home, have styled themselves as the ‘home decor superstore,’ stocking everything you need to make your space as personalized as possible. They’ve got so many style options that you’re sure to find pieces that suit your space. 

We found a fantastic selection of natural-fiber baskets in their Wicker & Woven Baskets collection. We found baskets made from fibers like Abaca, lots of wickers, hyacinth, seagrass, bamboo, and much more. The colors included neutrals and color-blocked prints to bright and fun combinations, which you could efficiently work into your decor style.

Whether you’re looking for shopping baskets, storage options, or decor pieces, At Home has plenty to choose from.

8. The Young Folk Collective

A ‘Luna’ Mama & Me Market Baskets set by Young Folk Collective

‘Luna’ Mama & Me Market Baskets – Young Folk Collective

What started as a search for beautifully designed Moses’ baskets for their baby, signaled the creation of this brand for the husband & wife co-founders. Young Folk Collective partners with artisans from Ghana to craft their beautiful basket designs. 

The woven baskets are all hand-made, crafted from the abundant elephant grass found in Ghana. Natural vegetable dyes are used to color the fiber, as well as non-toxic dyes for more color diversity. 

We love this Australian brand because their basket selection doesn’t just cater for mums and babies. Young Folk Collective also carries a unique selection of dog beds, featuring beds for dogs of sizes ranging up to 20kgs in weight. The small size of these beds may even work for your cat if you prefer this shape.

With their core values of Fair Trade and Sustainable practices, Young Folk Collective is a brand worth buying from. They aim to give the artisans a ‘Hand Up and not a Hand Out,’ which is a sustainable economic approach in the long term. 

You could just skip everything else right now, go straight to their Shop Collection and check out the fun variety of: 

  • Moses baskets,
  • Pet Baskets,
  • Market baskets,
  • Change baskets,
  • Play mats and
  • Organic Muslin Wraps.

9. Medina Mercantile

The woven basket designs of Medina Mercantile stock plenty of timeless original market basket designs. Market baskets in East Africa were initially designed to look like the red-handled basket pictured above. They were woven with: 

  • A flat round bottom
  • Tapered sides
  • A wide mouth that allows longer products to peek out
  • 2 Simple straps on each side, often made from sisal

Modern tweaks to the basket designs now incorporate handles that are easier to carry,  have trim, which reinforces the rims and even closure details like flaps and buckles. Woven basket uses have also changed from merely utilitarian (carrying market produce) to decorative and aesthetic decor pieces.

In line with current trends, Medina Mercantile not only carries traditional market basket creations but also woven basket designs that can be used as:

  • Planters
  • Moses baskets
  • Laundry baskets
  • Storage baskets
  • Totes
  • Bicycle carrier baskets
  • Wall art
  • Trays and Bowls, and much more

Check out Medina Mercantile’s collections here, and pick up a timeless woven basket to add a rustic touch to your home. 

10. Serrv International

 

Serrv international’s story goes back decades, to when they started helping displaced European refugees to trade in their handcrafts for income following World War 2. Today, Serrv boasts of being a pioneer in Fair Trade, employing 8000 artisans around the world.


Serrv empowers the artisans to improve their standard of living in the following ways:

  1. Sustainable employment creation;
  2. Ensuring that the children of artisans go to school and stay in school;
  3. Fighting child labor practices;
  4. Paying fair wages the artisans they contract, and paying them in advance for orders placed;
  5. Preserving traditional crafting methods which utilize traditional methods and materials;
  6. Supports community development in the local communities where artisans are;
  7. Sustainable practices in their operations, including recycling, use of recycled inputs, locally sourced materials, etc.

Artisans make Serrv’s beautiful woven baskets from several countries like Ghana, Cameroon, Kenya, Bangladesh, and Swaziland. Serrv has a large variety of colorful woven baskets, each piece lovingly hand-made and artistically finished by fair trade artisans. 

The creativity in the designs will turn heads wherever you go with these market baskets. And for the home decor pieces, your home will never be bland once you add some character to your rooms with unique pieces such as the laundry baskets, bread baskets, and so much more. Take a look at the versatile collections Serrv serves up, and bring some life to your indoor spaces.

What Natural Fibers Are Used to Make Woven Baskets?

5 different-sized baskets made from different fiber materials

We came across so much creativity when it came to the weaving of natural baskets. Artisans mainly use locally available materials in crafting the baskets, which include these:

  • Palm Fronds
  • Rattan Vines
  • Cattail Stalks
  • Hyacinth
  • Seagrass
  • Kaisa grass
  • Sisal
  • Banana Leaves

Let’s look at each of the materials, to see the transformation from plant to the beautiful woven product it becomes.

  • Palm Fronds

There are about 2600 species of palm trees in the world, which thrive in warm and humid conditions. The most common fronds used in basket weaving are those of coconut palm trees, the type found in coastal regions. Once the palm branches fall off the trees, they are typically considered waste. However, many uses for palm branches and fronds have evolved.

Locals living where palm trees are plentiful use the palm branches for roofing their houses, interlocking them in place. They form a structure that’s nice and cool, allowing air circulation inside, something that’s particularly welcome in hot, humid regions.

Palm branches also make handy fences and windbreakers. They are also used as garden mulch and nursery bed shields to protect young seedlings. Palm fronds, which are the leaf-like structures on the branches, are a handy material to work within weaving, due to their pliable and durable nature. 

Locals living where palm trees are plentiful often weave the fronds into items such as floor mats, table mats, and baskets of all shapes and sizes. 

Because the palm fronds are plentiful and easily renewable, they become a sustainable material for use in commercial weaving businesses.

 

  • Hyacinth

Water Hyacinth is a large, floating, fresh-water plant, primarily considered a nuisance weed, blocking river channels and hindering water transportation. Hyacinth is one of the fastest-growing plants known and is so invasive, it quickly covers water bodies in a thick, mat-like mass. 

As destructive as hyacinth is to marine environments, time and lots of research have brought to light several sustainable uses for it. Hyacinth is now used in the following ways: a source of bioenergy, paper, woven products, medicinal purposes, and much more.

 

Local communities living around water bodies invaded with hyacinth now harvest the weed and are reaping economic gains from hyacinth crafting and products. Take a look at the lovely basket below woven from hyacinth.

  • Sisal Leaves

Sisal Plants as they look like when they grow

Sisal Plants

Sisal fiber is obtained from the sword-shaped leaves of the sisal plant. The fiber is commonly used to make a strong rope or twine. The fiber is also used for a myriad of other products like mats, hats, clothes, carpets, and so much more. It’s even used to make cat-scratching poles and dartboards – Who would have thought!

Sisal is a favorite for certain products because of its inherent characteristics such as:

  • Strength
  • Durability
  • Ease of taking dyes
  • Does not deteriorate in saltwater

Since sisal thrives in semi-arid regions, it’s relied on for economic sustenance by many under-served communities in developing countries. In many of these rural communities, it is the women who hand-weave the baskets, mats, and other sisal products for sale.

With the money they make, women can provide for their children and meet other family needs. Sisal is an important crop that supports livelihoods in many semi-arid and rural regions around the world.

  • Rattan Vines

Rattan, also known as Manila, is a kind of climbing palm (actually a sort of liana vine), with several uses. Rattan is highly prevalent in making baskets and furniture because it’s durable and somewhat flexible. Also, the rattan is easy to stain or paint with different colors. This makes it fun to work with, and easy to produce lots of creative crafts as a result.

  • Cattail Stalks

Cattail, also known as Bulrush, is a tall thin-stemmed plant that grows near swamps and rivers. It’s a versatile plant with many uses, one of which is basket-making. It is also cultivated for ornamental purposes, as part of pond landscapes or dried flower arrangements.

More handy uses of cattail can be found here.

A Hamper Basket from Made Trade with its lid opened

This beautiful hamper basket from Made Trade is made in Senegal (Africa), from cattail stalks, woven together with upcycled plastic.

  • Seagrass  

Seagrass looks a lot like seaweed but is more closely related to regular grass than seaweed. It grows in shallow, salty or brackish water, like lagoons and bays, and can cover large areas if left undisturbed. 

Seagrass is critical to the environment for the following reasons:

  • It improves water quality;
  • It’s a source of food to many species;
  • Forms a refuge and a habitat to many marine organisms;
  • It is also used as a nursery by many marine species such as fish and snails.

Because Seagrass is vital in supporting marine ecosystems, harvesting must be done responsibly, so as not to upset the balance depended upon by marine creatures. Responsible harvesting means practices such as:

  • Not uprooting the grass by its roots, to allow it to re-grow;
  • Harvesting only on the shores of the water bodies;
  • Seasonal harvesting that does not compromise future re-growth.
  • Kaisa Grass

 

We’ve come across mentions of this grass from crafts originating from Bangladesh. Kaisa grass grows relatively tall, and is found near water bodies, and is harvested responsibly, to allow for re-growth.

Although not widely used around the world, Kaisa grass creates unique finishes in woven baskets. It is a favorite in Asian countries for craftwork because it’s quite durable, and the finished products have high visual appeal. The grass takes dyes easily, enabling artisans to create beautiful finishes in woven products.

  • Banana Fiber

Banana leaves and fiber are an essential part of many cultures across the world. In many Eastern cuisines such as Thai and Malaysian cooking, banana leaves are used in cooking, and even serving certain dishes. 

Banana Leaves Used as a Food Tray

The leaves are known to impart a subtle flavor and aroma to dishes it is used in.

When it comes to crafting, however, it’s the dried banana fiber that’s more commonly used. Banana fiber is a sustainable material obtained from the banana stem and is used in weaving and crafting.

After harvesting the fruit,  there’s usually not much use for the banana tree’s stem, and it often gets discarded. But recent technological developments have enabled the extraction of the stem’s fiber so that it can now be used in crafting.

Apart from the fiber, the skin from the stem is also dried and used in crafting. Dried banana skin produces strips of different shades of brown, from light tan to dark coffee shades. 

All these can be woven into many types of mixed or dual-tone crafts, such as mats, animal figurines, trays, and baskets. 

  • Abaca (Manila Hemp)

Abaca is a plant that’s native to Asia. It grows in humid areas and is common in the Philippines and East Indonesia. The Philippines is the largest source and supplier of Abaca fiber, providing about 85% of the fiber used around the world. 

The fiber is obtained from the stalk of the Abaca plant in a process similar to that of sisal fiber. Abaca or Manila Hemp fiber is considered one of the most durable natural fibers, even stronger than sisal. 

It is often used to make fishing nets due to its natural resistance to saltwater decomposition. Manila hemp’s durability makes it a versatile fiber, with so many uses including:

  1. Replacement for bark in making clothing and paper;
  2. Meat Casings;
  3. Coffee and Teabags;
  4. Security paper and high-quality paper;
  5. Diapers;
  6. Hospital textiles (caps, aprons & gloves);
  7. Machine filters;
  8. Woven and non-woven fiber handicrafts- carpets, bags, baskets, hammocks, wallpaper, and so much more. 

Stories that Inspire .…

A Filipino farmer's produce bounty in a natural fiber basket

Take a look at how Filipino farmers are delivering their fresh produce directly to households during the lockdown. Not only is less food going to waste in the process, but the farmers can earn more since there are no middlemen involved now. Better still, you could check out the inspiring video here.

Tell us What You Think

We hope you’ve enjoyed the natural-fiber designs of woven baskets we’ve shared with you. What’s your favorite design? And have you tried woven baskets for shopping or as part of your home decor? 

We would love to hear from you: Please share with us in the comments below.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like some of our other posts, such as:

 

  1. From Plastic to Fabric – 8 Sustainable Fashion Brands – Find out some of the sustainable fashion brands making considerable strides in upcycling post-consumer plastic to make clothing. Read about brands like Tentree, Ecoalf, and Day Won, among others. 
  2. Reusable Coffee Cups – Our Top 11 Picks – We don’t just talk about how hot these cups keep your coffee. We have zeroed in on sustainable brands,  have a sustainability footprint, and are supporting communities. 

Ready to Live Consciously?

Have you started living consciously? Are you involved in any Eco activities? We would love to know: Drop us a line on any of our Social Media handles and share your thoughts and experiences with us.

Let’s Do This Together!

 

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