Tucked into a hectic street in Phnom Penh, Smateria is an accessory workshop that's helping improve Cambodian lives. Their line of vividly-hued bags and wallets have a positive environmental and social effect, with 98 percent recycled source materials and production with strict accordance to fair trade principles.
The Mosquito Net Handbags bags (above right) use one of the most readily-available materials in Southeast Asia. When not providing protection from balaria, dengue fever and other insect-born illnesses, mosquito nets often end up refuse. Smateria uses a clever recycling method to make functional, attractive bags. The Drink Carton Wallets (below right) also come almost entirely from trash. Companies using the omnipresent Tetra Pak cartons give secondhand containers directly to Smateria, where they thatch them into durable money-holders. The Plastic Bags are have the most directly re-purposed source material. They take a spectrum of used shopping bags and weave them into far more resilient totes.
Smateria employs a workforce of local residents and give equal opportunity to the disadvantaged. Members are fully trained before being given access to equipment and are encouraged to organize and share their own work independently of the aforementioned items. That way everybody wins. You can purchase Smateria products at a number of boutiques in Cambodia, or through one of their internet retailers.