The Long Journey of a Market Basket

By Elizabeth Stilwell

My life as a market basket begins in Kenya. Sisal craft is indigenous to the village of Kakuyuni and has been passed down for generations. A group of women known as the Sisal Sisters preserve this craft by producing goods to sell. Market baskets are one of the products they create, the various sizes, colors, and designs a mark of their love for the craft. 

A species of Agave, sisal is an eco-friendly plant that produces a strong, stiff fiber. Chemical fertilizers are not used in sisal production, herbicides only occasionally used, as most weeding is done by hand. The Sisal Sisters pick the leaves from the sisal plant, strip the fibres, and roll it into twine on their legs. The sisal is then dyed, dried in the sun, and finally woven into baskets. Larger baskets can take up to a month to complete.

After being lovingly created by the Sisal Sisters, I made way to NYC by way of Artisan Connect. Artisan Connect sources exclusively from organizations that ensure fair wages are paid to artisans and offer their products via an online marketplace.

Union Square Greenmarket was my first excursion as a large, sturdy basket. Held snugly in the crook of Elizabeth's arm, I awaited local produce and flowers as she made her way through the crowded stalls.   

The produce was good, but the local flowers were better. It was one of the first truly spring days and I was enchanted by the vibrant anemones, ranunculus, and tulips sprouting from metal buckets. I greedily accepted a fragrant bunch of narcissus, spring onions, fresh green kale. I was filled with spring incarnate.

I'm the perfect height to have your goods chicly peeking from within without falling out. Created from sturdy, strong, and biodegradable sisal, I will last for many years and can return to the earth at the end of my life. 

I'm grateful to be a part this preservation of craft and culture, made by the Sisal Sisters in Kenya. I appreciate their weaving prowess and the unique imprint woven into each basket. You can support the Sisal Sisters and other artisans on the Artisan Connect marketplace. 

Elizabeth was gifted the Market Basket by Artisan Connect. Photos by Julia Pinter.


Elizabeth StilwellABOUT THE AUTHOR

With a background in education, Elizabeth Stilwell produces engaging, actionable content as editor-in-chief of The Note Passer . A proud sustainability nerd, her aim is to be a resource for ethical alternatives that benefit both people and the environment. The Note Passer is inspiration for better, sustainable future; one that's full of more meaning and less waste. Elizabeth’s graphics, photography, and words have have appeared on EF Magazine, Moral Fibres, BF+DA, EcoGreenLove, and others. She is also a co-founder of the Ethical Writers Coalition , a group of writers who are furthering ethical and sustainable living online and in print.

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