Sterling silver Window-Freedom necklace — $30
Beads for Life
When Torkin Wakefield's son went off to college in 2004, she and her husband, an AIDS doctor, went to Africa to lend a hand. They landed in Uganda, where Wakefield discovered a woman in a slum rolling colorful beads out of trash. This gave her an idea. She employed women living on $2 a day, the poorest of Uganda's poor, trained them to make the beads and paid them wages that enabled them to raise their standard of living. The jewelry may be the ultimate in guilt-free purchasing: Not only does buying it positively affect a woman's life, but the pieces are made from recycled magazines, calendars, cereal boxes and posters — so you can check off both fair-trade and green on your shopping list.
Madaala necklace, $25 per 19- to 21-inch strand.
When Elizabeth Suda worked as a merchandiser for Coach, she started looking with a critical eye at the things women wear. There must be a way, she thought, to make quality products and have the proceeds go directly to those making them. She left her job, ending up in Laos designing hand-dyed scarves, bags and jewelry for her own company (named after Article 22 in the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights). In one village, she discovered a man collecting metal from the millions of tons of bombs dropped by the U.S. during the Vietnam War and melting it down. Together they came up with the idea of allowing Americans to "buy back the bombs" in the form of elegant, hand-cast metal bangles they named PeaceBomb Bracelets. In addition to employing artisans, a donation is made to clear the land of the thousands of unexploded bombs still in Laos.
PeaceBomb Bracelet, $15 for one, $38 for set of three.
Bobo hand-woven, indigo-dyed bag, $220