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Fair Trade Recycled Glass Beads for Jewelry Projects

Updated on June 29, 2014

Recycled Glass Beads from Fair Trade Sources

I first came across recycled glass beads - also known as sand cast beads, Krobo beads, powdered glass beads, and fused glass beads - as I was searching for ways to make my jewelry business more environmentally friendly. The idea of beads made from recycled glass appealed to me. However, I didn't want to be taking unfair advantage of the craftspeople who make the beads.

Fair trade recycled glass beads (made primarily in Africa) can be found, affordably priced, online. Not only do I support the environment through the purchase of these beads, but I also support the ethical treatment of employees in Africa. On this page, I will share how these beautiful beads are made, more about the people who make them, and where to find these treasures for your own beading projects.

Photos on this page are my own unless otherwise credited. This photo is from Fair Trade Beads.

A Gorgeous Bracelet You Can Feel Good About

Green Glass Beads Bracelet - Fair Trade Bracelet
Green Glass Beads Bracelet - Fair Trade Bracelet

This bracelet is made with the very ethically created beads I'm describing on this page, and the Amazon vendor is a certified Fair Trade dealer. This bracelet says spring, earth, love your mother and a whole bunch more warm things. Wear these beautiful fair trade recycled glass beads with pride!


How Are Recycled Glass Beads Made?

Most of the fair trade recycled glass beads are made in West Africa, primarily in Ghana. There are several steps to making the beads:

  1. Unusable bottles are broken, and pulverized into small pieces and fine powder by pounding them.
  2. The pieces and/or powder are put into reusable molds - molds are made to create many shapes and sizes of beads.

    For beads made with powdered glass, a cassava leaf stem is placed in the center. The stem burns away in the kiln leaving a hole.

  3. The molds are placed in a wood-burning oven, or kiln, where they stay for about 1 hour. While in the kiln, the glass fuses together.
  4. The molds are removed from the ovens to cool.

    For beads made from small pieces of glass, the beads are pierced with a sharp metal tool before they cool, creating the hole in the center.

  5. When cool, the beads are removed from their molds.
  6. The beads are then washed with sand and water to remove sharp edges and polish them to a smooth, clean shine.
  7. Some beads remain translucent, while others are painted with a fine "glass slurry" made from powdered glass mixed with pigment and water.

The Process and Business of Fair Trade Recycled Beads

Photos and text depict the ste-by-step process of creating these beautiful beads from upcycled glass.

TK Beads is an excellent example of how fair trade works in a business sense. Florence has won me over completely!

A more detailed tour of Cedi Beads and how they create recycled glass beads.

Where Can You Buy Fair Trade Recycled Glass Beads & Jewelry?

There are a lot of online stores that sell recycled glass beads. Several of them even call the beads they sell Fair Trade. Without seeing certifications posted on their web sites, it's hard to tell if they are for real. Here are the few sites I recommend that hold reliable certifications and have good selections of beads and/or jewelry.

Why Shop Fair Trade?

Fair Trade Certified
Fair Trade Certified

Fair trade certified products come with certain guarantees. It means that the products are being produced in developing countries by people who are working in humane conditions and are being "justly compensated" for their work. When people are appropriately compensated for good, honest work, the broader impact is in nutritional and overall health improvements, empowerment of those people, and positive changes in whole communities. Look for these logos when determining if the product you are buying is certified Fair Trade.

If you do not choose Fair Trade, you may be contributing to the marginalization of populations in developing countries.

More information about Fair Trade practices can be found at:

* Fair Trade USA

* Fair Trade Federation

Have you heard of Fair Trade recycled glass beads before?

Fair Trade Recycled Glass Beads
Fair Trade Recycled Glass Beads

Have you heard of Fair Trade recycled glass beads before?

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What are your thoughts about Fair Trade recycled glass beads?

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    • MariaMontgomery profile image


      4 years ago from Central Florida, USA

      What a great idea!

    • chrins profile image


      4 years ago

      They're nice and recycling was great!

    • Rosetta Slone profile image

      Rosetta Slone 

      5 years ago from Under a coconut tree

      They're ethical, they're beautiful...what's there not to like?

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I like these Fair Trade Recycled Glass Beads projects.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 

      5 years ago from New Zealand

      I didn't know much about that, interesting fair trade, still to learn more. But I like glass beads, I go for that.Thanks for sharing.

    • artbyrodriguez profile image

      Beverly Rodriguez 

      5 years ago from Albany New York

      Interesting subject.

    • Rosanna Grace profile image

      Rosanna Grace 

      5 years ago

      You've touched on two things that appeal so much to me! Beading and Fair Trade products. Thank you for sharing that information and those lovely beads.

    • flycatcherrr profile image


      5 years ago

      Fair Trade products are so often infinitely more cool than anything else we can buy, as well as just the right way to go. These glass beads are all just lovely.

    • Jennifer Lawyer profile image

      Jennifer Lawyer 

      5 years ago

      I have just rediscovered my passion for beading. I love the idea of using fair trade, recycled items in my crafting. Thanks for passing on this information!


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