Make Bracelets, Not War

I love bracelets and tend to pile them on without abandon. Two of my current favorites aren’t just pretty to look at, they also carry a powerful message. The Peace Cord bracelet is hand woven in Afghanistan, using authentic military materials, and the peaceBOMB bracelet is made in Laos, using melted fragments of scrap metal from bombs. By wearing these, we can protest war while helping people in war-torn areas of the world earn a living wage. 

Peace Cords are hand woven in Afghanistan using 550 parachute cord and military uniform buttons.

Peace Cords are hand woven in Afghanistan using 550 parachute cord and military uniform buttons.

Peace Cord is the newest initiative of ARZU STUDIO HOPE and Spirit of America, a non-profit organization whose mission is to help Americans serving abroad assist local people in need. ARZU, which means “hope” in Dari, creates fair-wage artisan jobs and gives hope to hundreds of Afghan women as they hand-weave these Peace Cord bracelets out of parachute cord and secure them with authentic military dress or fatigue buttons.

Afghan women weaving Peace Cords.

Afghan women weaving Peace Cords.

100% of the proceeds help fund the education, healthcare, and livelihoods of ARZU’s artisans and support grassroots humanitarian and community development programs carried out by U.S troops in Afghanistan. Since 2004, ARZU STUDIO HOPE has also created award-winning rugs for American consumers and socially responsible corporations seeking a direct opportunity to transform the lives of rural Afghan weavers and their families.

Each hand cast and finished single bangle or set comes with a handwoven organic cotton drawstring pouch and story card.

Each hand cast and finished single bangle or set comes with a handwoven organic cotton drawstring pouch and story card.

PeaceBOMB bracelets are made from Vietnam War-era scrap metal. Each is hand cast by artisans who collect scrap metal from the 250-260 million bombs that were dropped over the Laos countryside. Between 1964 and 1973 this was the most heavily bombed country—the US dropped 2 million tons of ordnance on Lao PDR, averaging one B-52 bomb load every 8 minutes for 9 years. The artisans in Naphia Village initially learned to cast spoons from this melted scrap metal, which includes the stabilization fins of cluster bomb casings, flares, certain fuses and parts of fighter jets. To make the bracelets, the scrap aluminum is melted in an earthen kiln, cast in hand-sculpted molds of wood and ash, and finished by hand.

Rocket mortar among other debris.

Rocket mortar among other debris.

Wood and ash molds in front of an earthen kiln.

Wood and ash molds in front of an earthen kiln.

Two Naphia metalsmiths with the hand-sculpted bracelet molds.

Two Naphia metalsmiths with the hand-sculpted bracelet molds.

Elizabeth Suda left New York City and a job in merchandising at Coach to travel to Southeast Asia and find out how the goods we consume are actually made. Through a Swiss NGO, she became involved in the Rural Income through Sustainable Development Project (RISE). Recognizing that the largest obstacle faced by skilled artisans in developing nations is finding a way to get their products to market, she founded ARTICLE 22 to create a traceable link between producers in the east and consumers in the west as well as sharing the stories behind these handcrafted products. Benefits from the sale of peaceBOMB bracelets are shared across the community through donations to a village micro-credit fund that provides small business and other loans to members as well as supports community infrastructure projects. Besides bracelets ARTICLE 22 also makes bags and scarves, all adhering to the same fair trade, fair made principles.

My two "peacelets"—soon to be joined by more.

My two “peacelets”—soon to be joined by more.

Based on the same founding principles, ARZU STUDIO HOPE and ARTICLE 22 are both proving that the triple bottom line—people, planet, profit—can be hugely successful. The bracelets look good and they do good. They also make terrific gifts. So hey Goodlifers, let’s make bracelets, not war!

Make bracelets, not war.

Peace Cords range from $10-15 each, depending on the style (buy here). PeaceBOMB bracelets are $15 for a single or $38 for a triple (buy here).

About author
A designer by trade, Johanna has always had a passion for storytelling. Born and raised in Sweden, she's lived and worked in Miami, Brooklyn and, currently, Ojai, CA. She started Goodlifer in 2008 to offer a positive outlook for the future and share great stories, discoveries, thoughts, tips and reflections around her idea of the Good Life. Johanna loves kale, wishes she had a greener thumb, and thinks everything is just a tad bit better with champagne (or green juice).
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