At the Starfish Project, sustainability is now an option they wouldn’t have been able to think of when they started up 5 years ago. Their aim to “restore hope to exploited women in Asia” as stated on their website, began in Asia as a women’s program and shelter where they would have a job. The women who came to the shelter had limited options for help and few life skills. Now, with the success of the jewelry the women have been making and the response shown from individuals around the world, they are able to start moving toward an economically sustainable business.
The Sustainability Primer uses the Brundtland definition of sustainability as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”” (5). This nonprofit organization brings awareness toward a group of women striving to be able provide for themselves and have their own needs met. There is a shelter to offer women a place to live for up to two years and counseling on site for the women staying there. After those two years the women leave the shelter, but are able to keep their jobs. Rather than focusing on charity acts it is important for the women to learn that it is quality they are striving for; a valued life and a real job. The women were not receiving charity; rather the women were making products that people wanted to purchase because of the value of the pieces. I’m hoping to find out more about the women that make the jewelry, but first I’ll be working more behind the scenes involving inventory, shipping, and working on sustainable ideas that could work in an office environment.
When reading about the Principles for a Sustainable Society, I realized that already Starfish Project are applying step four; to “reduce and eliminate our contribution to conditions that systematically undermine people’s ability to meet their basic needs.” Not only are the women learning new skills but they are also re-educating their generation; and informing the generations to come that there is another option for them rather than trafficking. Though the other steps aren’t as clear, I can’t wait to talk about them with the women at Starfish Project and see if they may be interested in making steps towards a more sustainable organization!